The Egyptians took an interest in the Tanaja, as
they called the Mycenaeans (Homer's Achaeans or Danaoi), and their rise to power
beginning in the 14th century BC. It is indicative that faience plaques, vessels
and figurines with the cartouche of the Pharaohs Amenophis II and Amenophis III
were brought to Mycenae, possibly even by official Egyptian delegations.
The biblical land Canaan, the ports of Phoenicia
(modern-day Lebanon), Syria and Cyprus all had trading relations with the
Mycenaean world. Ships crossed the Aegean sea laden with copper and glass
ingots, elephant and hippopotamus tusk, semi-precious stones and faience to be
worked in the palatial workshops of Mycenae and at other centres. Also
considered as exotic items were Egyptian faience scarabs, bronze statuettes of
the Syro-Palestinian god Reshef, cylinder seals depicting Mesopotamian gods and
heroes, ostrich eggs and possibly even cloths. Canaanite pointed-base amphorae
were used to transport a number of goods, to Greece. The Cypriot lamp discovered
at Mycenae and the bronze tripod from the Tiryns hoard demonstrate the close
relations between mainland Greece and Cyprus at the end of the Mycenaean period,
when there was a substantial Greek presence in Cyprus.
The search for gold and other metals, such as tin
(an essential ingredient of bronze), is believed to have prompted the Mycenaeans
to explore to the north and west into Europe. Amber jewelry accompanied the
elite burials at Mycenae and Pylos, while the ruling classes in Western and
Eastern Europe used Aegean vessels, or their imitations. The customary gift
exchange between rulers may explain this phenomenon. Mycenaean pottery, a luxury
product in the West, was exported in large quantities to Italy, Sicily and
Sardinia, where it was widely imitated, and even as far as Spain.
The strengthening of relations with Western Europe
is indicated by the appearance of a new type of powerful bronze sword, which was
influenced by a West European prototype, in the Mycenaean warrior graves of the
12th century BC.