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date: 15 May 2021

(p. xxxi) Preface

(p. xxxi) Preface

It is my hope that the Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean will provide a comprehensive overview of our current understanding of the Bronze Age Aegean (ca. 3000–1000 BC) and capture the most important debates and discussions currently ongoing within the discipline. Presented in four separate sections within the handbook, the sixty-six commissioned articles by more than sixty different scholars address a series of useful—and occasionally overlapping—topics ranging from chronological and geographical to thematic and site-specific subjects. Each was written by one or more experts who were asked to present an authoritative précis while adhering to strict word and illustration limits.

Geographical and Historical Scope

The geographical area of the Aegean, as considered within the handbook, comprises primarily mainland Greece, Crete, and the Cycladic Islands but extends also to Rhodes, the Dodecanese Islands, the western coast of Anatolia (modern Turkey), the eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus, Egypt, and the Levant), and the western Mediterranean (Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy). Individual articles make additional references to the Balkans and Europe. The chronological period under consideration is the Bronze Age, which runs from approximately 3000–1000 BC in the Aegean region and is roughly subdivided into the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000–2000 BC), the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000–1700 BC), and the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700–1000 BC). For more precise dates, the reader may consult table 1.1 and the entry on chronology, as well as a multitude of individual entries.

Content and Structure

The first part, Background and Definitions, contains chapters on general topics that are essential to establish the discipline in its historical, geographical, and chronological settings and its relation to other disciplines.

The second part, Chronology and Geography, contains chapters examining the Bronze Age Aegean by chronological period (Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age, (p. xxxii) Late Bronze Age). In order to discuss these periods comprehensively, each one has been further subdivided geographically, so that the individual chapters are concerned with mainland Greece during the Early Bronze Age, Crete during the Early Bronze Age, the Cycladic Islands during the Early Bronze Age, and the same for the Middle Bronze Age, followed by the Late Bronze Age.

The third part, Thematic Topics, contains chapters that examine a number of thematic issues that cannot be done justice in a strictly chronological or geographical treatment, including religion, state and society, trade, warfare, pottery, writing, and burial customs, as well as specific topics such as the eruption of Santorini and the Trojan War. Some of these will have been touched upon in the previous major section (Chronology and Geography) but deserve their own extended treatment. Every attempt has been made to ensure that there are no extensive duplications, discrepancies, and/or contradictions within the materials in these different sections.

The fourth part, Specific Sites and Regions, contains chapters that examine some of the most important sites and regions in the Bronze Age Aegean and related areas, including Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Knossos, Kommos, Ialysos, Troy, the Uluburun and Cape Gelidonya shipwrecks, western Anatolia, the Levant, Cyprus, Egypt, and the western Mediterranean. Each of the contributions on a specific site presents the history of the excavations, the discoveries that have been made, and the importance of each to the study of the region and time period under consideration. In almost all of the cases, the entry has been written by the excavator of the site or, if the excavator is deceased, by someone who is considered to be an expert on that site. Similarly, the entries for individual regions have been written by selected scholars who focus on their particular area of expertise.


A varied group of scholars has contributed articles to this handbook. A number are established researchers whose names are known even outside their chosen fields; others are younger but highly regarded specialists whose contributions to scholarship are already changing our understanding of Bronze Age Aegean archaeology. All of the contributors have written on their particular area of specialization, whether it is a history of the discipline, an overview of a chronological period, a thematic topic, or a specific site.

Goals and Aims

This handbook is meant to serve as an essential research tool and resource for the Bronze Age Aegean, with reasonably brief entries on the most important periods, places, events, and topics. Based in part on course syllabi used by several Bronze Age (p. xxxiii) Aegean scholars for advanced undergraduate and graduate classes, the goal was to cover subjects that lend themselves well to individual classroom lectures and discussions and to create a volume that would allow the reader to pick it up, immediately turn to the desired subject, and learn about it in a manageable fashion. It is aimed at professionals who teach undergraduate and graduate courses on the Bronze Age Aegean, as well as advanced undergraduate and graduate students taking such courses and a select portion of the interested general public. It is hoped that the volume will also prove useful to professional scholars and advanced students in related disciplines such as Classics, ancient history, and the ancient Near East and that it will be considered an essential reference work for academic libraries worldwide.

Eric Cline (p. xxxiv)