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The exhibit

Katsambas, Tomb B. 1400-1375 BC

This Egyptian amphora with the hieroglyphic inscription is made of translucent alabaster. Its shape is reminiscent of clay Canaanite amphoras. The royal cartouche, the incised frame containing the name of the pharaoh, on the shoulder of the vase shows that it was produced in a royal workshop during the reign of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, around 1500-1450 BC. It was found in the so-called Tomb of the Blue Bier in the cemetery of Katsambas, the harbour of Knossos. This tomb stands out among the rich rock-cut chamber tombs of the Final Palatial period, dated to around 1450-1300 BC. The burial was in a wooden coffin preserving traces of blue paint, while the rich grave goods included jewellery, ivory artefacts, fine vases and imported objects like this inscribed Egyptian alabaster amphora. The fact that the vase with the cartouche of Tuthmosis III accompanied a rich burial of later date may indicate that it was a precious heirloom of symbolic significance, perhaps a diplomatic gift from the Pharaoh to a prominent member of the ruling class of the territory of Knossos. Regardless of the dating, this valuable vase is direct and important evidence of the close relationships and contacts between Cretan and Egyptian officials.
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