Pieces of the sun: amber in Mycenaean economy and society
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Amber was a substance highly prized by the Mycenaean Greeks. It appeared in small amounts in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, but in the Late Bronze Age large-scale amber trade between areas of Northern Europe (such as the region around the Baltic Sea or the Jutland peninsula) increased and loads of amber were brought into Greece, mostly in the form of beads. These beads in turn ended up in several different archaeological contexts; tombs were by far the most popular, but jewelry workshops, shipwrecks, and religious shrines also featured amber. This thesis seeks to understand how amber's use in all of these contexts reflected the significance it held within Mycenaean society and also how it was different from other luxury materials such as amethyst, gold, faience, or ivory by investigating such aspects as the mythology of amber, its uses as a cultic material, and its potential medicinal qualities. To determine this different type of significance, several theories regarding economics, worth, and trade in premonetary societies are combined with archaeological contexts of amber to produce a complete picture of just how it was valued and treated in Late Bronze Age Greece.
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