The find of an early Mycenaean tholos tomb at Vapheio (Tsountas 1889) brought to light two unusual objects: a seal showing a person in long robes holding a fenestrated ax, and the Vapheio ax, the latter a unique and heavy fenestrated ax with no parallels in the Aegean to date. Scholars from Evans to Maran have argued for a non-Aegean, Levantine origin of this type of ax. This article, therefore, attempts to find the origin of this ax type and to point to its symbolic meaning in the Levant and later in the Aegean. It is argued that the Vapheio ax was a Levantine product produced long before the end of the Middle Bronze Age, sometime between the 20th and late 18th centuries b.c. At least some of the symbolic meaning of the ax as an attribute of rulership in the Levant was transferred to Minoan Crete. By the time the ax, and its related Levantine-inspired iconography, reached Vapheio and was deposited in the tomb, it was a centuries-old ceremonial weapon, and without doubt it was perceived as a formidable symbol of power.
|Number of pages
|Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
|Published - May 2015
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Schools of Oriental Research.
- Aegean iconography
- Interactions between the Aegean and the Levant
- Middle Bronze Age
- Symbolism of rulership
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies