Minoan Style Fresco Found at Tel Kabri

As the University of Haifa news release says, this find is not the first Aegean-style painting found in Middle Bronze Age (2000 – 1550 BCE) remains at Tel Kabri. Archaeologists discovered Aegean like painted floor fragments some time ago. And the Northern Levant has likely yielded Aegean style fresco fragments from Alalakh (VII) for example. However, some do dispute the exact identification and chronology of the Alalakh fragments See the reference below. The blue background fresco does seem to be a first from Israel and perhaps from the whole of the Levant
I found this observation abnormally interesting if not just a little abnormal.

“It was, without doubt, a conscious decision made by the city’s rulers who wished to associate with Mediterranean culture and not adopt Syrian and Mesopotamian styles of art like other cities in Canaan did. The Canaanites were living in the Levant and wanted to feel European,” explains Dr. Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa, who directed the excavations.

Hear is a case where Rainey’s definition of archaeology may really apply. One could have a field day with this but right now I’m too lazy to get into it beyond asking, “Is Yasur-Landau talking about material culture or ethnic culture? Both? Something else?” and “Were the folks who lived or ruled Middle Bronze Age Tel Kabri really Canaanites in any of the several meanings of the word?”
Here’s a picture of the Tel Kabri fresco fragment(s).

Tel Kabri Fresco Fragments

Via Jim West who links to a Israel National News article based on the University of Haifa news release.

5 thoughts on “Minoan Style Fresco Found at Tel Kabri”

  1. It’s a fascinating discovery but I think the journalist may have garbled what the excavator actually said. No Bronze Age scholar would have said ‘European’ for Minoan Crete. Anyway, the material culture of Kabri is otherwise entirely Canaanite so the site belongs within Canaanite culture. It may be part of this very interesting phenomenon of itinerant Aegean artists in the Late MBA and possibly into the early LBA (there are still traces in Egypt well into the 18th Dynasty).

  2. The “European culture” quote doesn’t surprise me at all, in the context of an Israeli political/cultural establishment that sees itself as an outpost of European/Western culture holding out against the hordes of Muslim barbarians.

  3. How on earth could one leap to the conclusion that it must have been a “conscious decision made by the city’s rulers” to “associate with Mediterranean culture and not adopt Syrian and Mesopotamian styles of art like other cities in Canaan did.”?

  4. To Egypt Steve: no we do not see ourselves a seuropean outpost of any kind. As a matter of fact my mother is jewish from libya and my father is jewish from iraq, the only connection I see to anything european in my heritage is european collonialism of the countries they came from to settle back from where we were exiled.

  5. Judith,
    I also wondered about the possibility that a journalist “garbled” the quotation. That’s why I hunted down the news release itself. Of course, it too could have garbled Yasur-Landau’s words but it is at least closer to the source.
    Egypt Steve,
    It is not uncommon for archaeologists from many places (not just Israel) to make comments based on some nationalistic agenda. I do think it wrong to read nationalistic agendas into every comment made by an archaeologist. Sometimes they just say strange things.
    See my comment to Egypt Steve above.

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