The Rhetoric of Reciprocity in Late Bronze Age Mediterranean Exchange


  • Bryan E. Burns Wellesley College



Aegean, Bronze Age, eastern Mediterranean, exchange, Mycenaean, reciprocity


This contribution broadens the scope of the discussion to consider reciprocity in relation to acts of Mycenaean exchange that extend beyond the Aegean. This broader engagement with diverse states of the Mediterranean brought new opportunities for Mycenaean communities, and new categories of data for scholarly analysis, including written and visual representations of international exchange. The rhetoric of equality enabling gift exchange among leaders of eastern kingdoms can be usefully contrasted with the discourse of power and domination aimed at an internal audience. Recognizing the tropes of both ideological projections provides a valuable model for the potential strategies of Aegean actors managing and manipulating external sources of material goods and social power within their own regions. The distribution of imported cylinder seals in Boeotia offers an opportunity to consider the economic and political claims made by Aegean actors, both palatial and independent, who may have framed their acquisitions through the language of reciprocity.

Author Biography

Bryan E. Burns, Wellesley College

Bryan E. Burns is Associate Professor in the Department of Classical Studies, Wellesley College and Co-Director of the Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project. He is interested in the archaeology of the Late Bronze Aegean, Mediterranean exchange, and the consumption of imports.



How to Cite

Burns, B. E. (2016). The Rhetoric of Reciprocity in Late Bronze Age Mediterranean Exchange. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 29(1), 88–94.



Discussion and Debate (Responses)