AIA Lecture: Crete, the Aegean, and the Near East in the Early 1st Millennium BCE

Antonis Kotsonas


Note: we are now fully booked for this event, and we are no longer accepting names for the wait-list. 

The dense and complex networks of interaction connecting the prehistoric Aegean and the Near East were severely dismantled ca. 1200 BCE. In the course of the early 1st millennium BCE new and very different networks of interaction emerged through the agency of people from both regions, and by the 7th century BCE Greek culture was strongly Orientalizing. Crete was once taken to hold a key role in this process and to be the cradle of the Greek Orientalizing culture, as the intellectual tradition of Pan-Cretism had it. More recently, however, the island has been seen as a passive periphery and a cultural backwater in this period. My paper offers a corrective approach to these contrasting interpretations. I argue for the important role of Crete in connecting the Aegean and the Near East based on new and old discoveries, and a range of archaeological and art-historical evidence for increasingly closer links between the island and the Eastern Mediterranean from the 11th to the 7th century BCE. I also explain the ways in which this evidence is exceptional for broader Greek contacts with the Near East. Lastly, I investigate the manipulation of Oriental styles and imports by different Cretan communities and social groups, and I analyze the serious demise of such imports to Crete in the course of the 7th century BCE and the reorientation of the island’s culture to the Aegean.

Antonis Kotsonas is Assistant Professor of Mediterranean History and Archaeology at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. from the University of Crete.

His research focuses on the material culture and socio-economic history of Greece and the Mediterranean in the Early Iron Age and the Archaic period, though his research interests extend from the Late Bronze Age to the Roman period. He has conducted fieldwork and finds research on Crete, and in the Cyclades, Euboea, Macedonia and Latium; and comparative studies across the Aegean, and from Italy to Cyprus. His publications engage problems in state formation, trade and interaction, identity and commensality, memory, and the history of Greek and Mediterranean archaeology. He is the author of The Archaeology of Tomb A1K1 of Orthi Petra in Eleutherna (Athens 2008); co-author of Methone Pierias IInscriptionsGraffiti and Trademarks on Geometric and Archaic Pottery from the ‘Ypogeio’ of Methone Pierias in Macedonia (Thessaloniki 2012); the editor of Understanding Standardization and Variation in Mediterranean Ceramics: Mid 2nd to Late 1st Millennium BC (Leuven 2014); and co-editor of a Wiley Blackwell Companion to the Archaeology of Early Greece and the Mediterranean(Forthcoming). Also, he is Area Editor for the Wiley Encyclopedia of Ancient History.

Prior to joining NYU, Antonis Kotsonas was Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, and Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Crete, and King’s College London. He also served as Curator at the Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam. Kotsonas has held a Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship (2017-2018), he has received the Rising Star Award from the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Cincinnati (2018), and he is the Visiting Professor of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, which involves lecturing across Australia in summer 2018.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America and ISAW.

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