The Aegean Bronze Age

On AEGEANET, John Younger calls our attention to the just released Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean, edited by Eric Cline. I’ve added this one to my Christmas list.
There is currently a focus on the possibility, some would say certainty, of significant Classical and Hellenistic Greek influence on much of the Hebrew Bible at every level from small paricopes to large scale structures, from legal texts to historical narrative. Still, it is well to remember that the Mediterranean was as much a highway as a barrier over very long periods of time.
While we students of the Hebrew Bible may well need to develop increased sensitivity to the Classical and Hellenistic Greek motifs in the literature of our abnormal interest, we cannot abandon our interest in the broad range of influences upon our subject. These no doubt also include the Aegean in the Bronze Age. Largely because of the nature of our written sources, we tend to see the culture diffusion from east to west during the Bronze Age. But Bronze Age artifacts of Aegean origin found in the Levant witness to a far more complex interaction across the Mediterranean. Greek like things that we may see in the Hebrew Bible may reflect a common early origin rather than a late influence. The methodological trick is to be able to discern the difference. That is only possible is we know both the early and late periods and know them well. So much to know, so little time.
Now – back to the influence of Mesopotamian divination on the Hebrew Bible.

4 thoughts on “The Aegean Bronze Age”

  1. Minoans were influenced by Egyptians who in turn influenced the Mycenaean Greeks. Simultaneously it’s clear the Egyptians also affected the Semites. So some shared concepts and words can surely be traced to Egypt. Yet Hittites too diffused concepts outwards and so also the Minoans. And the Semites for that matter forged their own innovations (the alphabet, for starters). I think of these cultures like multiple pebbles dropped in the Mediterranean Sea at the same time. After a while the waves start to blur together and it’s difficult to distinguish one wave from another.

  2. Actually this the paperback edition. The book was originally published in 2010.
    P.S. Well about the connection with the Bronze Age Aegean I was very excited when I figured out the link with the Philistines.

  3. I see a lot of ANE influence on early Greek culture, not just in the adoption/adaption of the abjad (alphabet) from the Phoenicians, but also in their myths (Cadmus for example). I also have wondered if the _name_ of the Roman god Vulcan was an adoption/adaption of Tubal-Cain (but that’s just speculation on my part).
    I mostly discount heavy Greek influence on _early_ biblical books, but the late books (300 BCE and later) I would not be surprised about it. However, I do see the story of Samson in Judges as a story originating in Greek/Aegean myth (probably related to Greek hero Herekles, although noting that the Greek hero is possibly based on Enkidu).

  4. Busi, Roman Vulcanus is beyond a doubt an Etruscan loan from *Velchan. I’ve determined that it means ‘The Hidden One’ (from velch ‘hidden’). This perfectly parallels the Greek name Hades (also meaning ‘hidden one’) and the Egyptian god of the setting sun, Amon (yet again, meaning ‘hidden one’).
    The etymology of Etruscan *Velchan is linked to Greek reflections of the name in Γέλχανος, Ϝέλχανος and Ἐλχάνιος which lingered in Crete and the islands.
    So there’s your link between Etruscan mythos and that of the Eastern Mediterranean. There are evidently common themes regarding a “god of the setting sun” or “sun of the netherworld” referred to as “The Hidden One”. Velchan was also known as Tinia Thneth ‘Tinia of Thunder’ (= Roman Jupiter Tonans), he is part of the solar trinity shown on the Piacenza Liver with Tinia Cilensl ‘Tinia of Darkness’ and Tinia Thufl ‘Tinia of Oath’.
    And the division of the day into three parts, as per this worldview, was brilliantly extended to the division of the year (spring-summer, autumn, winter) and the division of an “age” (ie. the Etrusco-Roman aevum). These beliefs seem to me most heavily drawn from Egyptian sources ultimately and I do suspect that the Cypro-Minoan population adopted many Egyptian loans into their non-IE language group.

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