Intercultural contacts in the Levant and Syria (2016-2019)

The exchange of materials and techniques for the production of seals in the ancient Near East

© Google Earth; © KMKG-MRAH Brussel
© Google Earth; © KMKG-MRAH Brussel
As a crossroads between three continents, the Middle East has always been a complex contact zone for ​​intercultural relations. Dating back to the Bronze Age, when the first 'international' contacts were established, these relations have had an impact on the material culture of the various successive civilizations in the region. The study of import material and mutual technological and artistic influences allows mapping trade routes and cultural exchanges, on intraregional and interregional levels.

Traditionally, the emphasis is on the study of pottery, luxury goods and iconography, but this research focusses on small artifacts such as amulets and seals. Their widespread distribution both in time and space, the contexts in which they surface, but also their formal aspects, subject to regional variations and external influences, make them a highly suitable parameter to assess the nature and intensity of intercultural contacts. The focus of the current study is on the Levant during the 2nd and 1st millennia BC, because of the key role it has always played in the contacts between Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean.

Building on a doctoral dissertation and the processing of new archaeological finds, this project will further explore on the exchange of raw materials and the technological know-how between different regions, as reflected by glyptics and amulets. Through non-destructive material analysis in museum collections and relying on experimental studies of prevalent materials (steatite, faience ...) and decoration techniques, this approach will allow evaluating the existing historic-economic models for the circulation of raw materials and production techniques.


  • Vanessa Boschloos, 2015. From Egypt to Byblos…and Back Again. The Production and Distribution of Green Jasper Seals in Egypt and the Levant during the Early 2nd Millennium BCE, in: Jana Mynářová, Pavel Onderka, Peter Pavúk (eds.), There and Back Again - the Crossroads II. Proceedings of an International Conference Held in Prague, September 15-18, 2014, Prague: Charles University, p. 297-314.
  • Vanessa Boschloos, 2014. The Hyksos and the Middle Bronze Age IIB-IIC/III in Jordan: What Imported Egyptian Seals Tell Us, in: Ingrid Swinnen, Eric Gubel (eds.), “From Gilead to Edom”. Studies in the Archaeology and History of Jordan in Honor of Denyse Homès-Fredericq on the Occasion of Her Eightieth Birthday (Akkadica Supplementum XII), Brussels, p. 107-122.
  • Vanessa Boschloos, 2014. Tyre, Achziv and Kition. Evidence For a Phoenician Iron Age II Scarab Seal Workshop, in: Angelika Lohwasser (Hg.), Skarabäen des 1. Jahrtausends. Ein Workshop in Münster am 17. Oktober 2012 (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 269), Freiburg Schweiz: Academic Press - Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014, p. 5-36.
  • Vanessa Boschloos, 2013. Interregional Contacts in the Biqaca Valley From a Beetle’s Point of View, in: Altorientalische Forschungen 40/2, Berlin: De Gruyter Akademie Verlag, p. 195-219.
  • Vanessa Boschloos, 2011-2012, Studie in de relaties tussen Egypte en het Nabije Oosten: De geochronologische distributie van Egyptische scarabeezegels in de Noordelijke Levant (Syrië en Libanon) van het late 3e millennium tot de late IJzertijd [ongepubliceerde PhD dissertatie, Vrije Universiteit Brussel].


Dr. Vanessa Boschloos