Abstract: The Dead as Consumers: Cypriot pottery in Canaanite Tombs


Cypriot Base Ring and other small containers used for opium or scented oils were ubiquitous in the hundreds of Late Bronze Age burials at Tell el-‘Ajjul excavated by Sir W.M.F. Petrie. Clearly, these foreign products had become completely acculturated, a normal part of funerary ritual at the site. What is more surprising, perhaps, is that they were apparently equally available to everyone, regardless of the wealth or poverty of the burial. In fact, the social status of the deceased was rarely manifested in his or her tomb goods since, by and large, these were notably few and modest. Thus, as we try to interpret the phenomenon of Cypriot pottery in Levantine burials, we should not over-emphasize the cost of these supposedly expensive imported items but rather consider the symbolic value as primary, ahead of the economic one.

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