New York Aegean Bronze Age Colloquium: Mari and the Minoans

Karen Polinger Foster

Yale University

This lecture is co-sponsored by the New York Aegean Bronze Age Colloquium and ISAW.

The 20,000 cuneiform tablets found in the palace at Mari provide a wealth of evidence for the world of the 18th century B.C.E.  This presentation focuses on the documents that shed light on the connections between Mari and Minoan Crete.  Thanks to much recent Assyriological work, the corpus of relevant texts has nearly tripled since Aegean specialists last considered them. Two historical nuggets of considerable significance for Aegeanists emerge from my present study. In addition, I discuss for the first time what the Mariote scribes might have been looking at and attempting to describe when they made their inventories of Cretan goods.

Karen Polinger Foster specializes in the art of the Aegean Bronze Age, with particular interests in interconnections between Minoan Crete, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Her scores of articles and numerous books include monographs on Aegean faience (Yale) and ceramic relief (SIMA), as well as Civilizations of Ancient Iraq (Princeton, co-authored), winner of the 2010 Horton Book Prize of the Archaeological Institute of America. In 2002, she co-organized the 9th International Aegean Conference at Yale, resulting in the publication of METRON: Measuring the Aegean Bronze Age (Liège). She currently has several long articles and book projects in the works. A Mesopotamian Miscellany (Gorgias, in press) offers a unique anthology of readings based on the annual public exhibits she co-curated from 2002 to 2016 of tablets in the Yale Babylonian Collection. Strange and Wonderful: Exotic Flora and Fauna in Image and Imagination (Oxford, in press) brings together her longstanding research on this fascinating subject, from ancient to modern times. With two colleagues, she is also involved in editing a projected volume on Ecstatic Experience in the Ancient World. Over the course of her long teaching career, she has taught ancient art and archaeology at Yale, Wesleyan, and elsewhere, sending a dozen students on to graduate studies in ancient fields. Since 2017, she has been a Visiting Associate Professor at Trinity College.   

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