Keftians


Keftians
c.1567-1320 BC.
    Some courtiers' tombs of the Eighteenth Dynasty contain wall-scenes which depict foreign peoples bringing tribute to Egypt. Amongst these are a group described as 'Men of Keftiu' and of the 'Islands in the midst of the Sea'. They carry gold and silver, precious stones, copper, bronze, ivory and distinctive metal vases of various shapes. In the tomb of Menkheperresoneb (High Priest of Amun under *Tuthmosis III), the leader of the Keftians is shown with the princes of the *Hittites, of Tunip in Syria, and of Kadesh, kneeling and offering tribute, but the Keftians were not subjects of Egypt and this scene overstates their submission. They came to Egypt rather as envoys and ambassadors, bringing objects for the treasury and gifts for the Court, but also receiving other goods in exchange. They probably remained in Egypt for several months and then returned home.
    The location of Keftiu and the origin of its people remain uncertain. It has been suggested that it could be equated with the Biblical Caphtor, and there is still speculation as to whether Keftiu was Crete or some part of Asia Minor, although many scholars accept that the Keftians were envoys sent to Egypt from Minoan Crete and that the 'People of the Islands in the midst of the Sea' were representatives of other Aegean islands then under Crete's control. The 'Minoan' influence on Egyptian art during the Eighteenth Dynasty is particularly noticeable in certain vase shapes and decorative motifs and also in the naturalistic composition of some hunting and battle scenes. It may also have influenced the wall decoration of the royal palaces at Malkata and Amarna, and in the tombs, Minoan and Mycenaean pottery was placed as treasured possessions.
    The Keftians are first mentioned in New Kingdom scenes and inscriptions, but Egypt had already established contact with Crete during the Middle Kingdom when it is obvious that a cross-fertilisation of ideas occurred. Although fewer Egyptian objects have been found in Minoan contexts, quantities of the polychrome decorated ware of Cretan manufacture have been revealed at a number of Twelfth Dynasty sites in the Fayoum and elsewhere. These occur in larger numbers than in the New Kingdom and come mainly from domestic rather than tomb contexts. Such pottery may have entered Egypt through an intermediary or through trading routes. Although no reference to the Keftians in Egypt occurs as early as the Middle Kingdom, it is at least possible that they were already bringing their wares into the country.
BIBL. Vercoutter, J. L'Egypte et le Monde Egeen Prehellenique. Cairo: 1956; Wainwright, G.A. Keftiu. JEA 17 (1931) pp. 26 ff. and The Keftiu People of the Egyptian Monuments. Ann. Arch. Anthr. 6 (1913) pp 24 ff. and, Keftiu: Crete or Cilicia? JHS 57 (1931) pp. 1 ff.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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  • Menkheperresoneb — see Keftians. Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David …   Ancient Egypt


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