Public acquisition and display of imported prestige goods was a well-recognized method by which Egyptian and wider Near Eastern rulers established status in their own societies and negotiated their place among royal peers. Fresco fragments from the palacesat Tell el-Dab‘a (ancient Avaris), constructed and painted in an Aegean technique, suggest that monumental wall decoration was used in this manner as well. Trade and exchange routes between the Aegean and Egypt have been discussed since the time of Arthur Evans’s excavations at Knossos. These discussions have focused primarily on objects and the political-religious ideas behind artistic expression moving in both directions; however, since walls cannot move, in this case it is the artists who painted them that must have traveled. It is argued here that Aegean fresco artists were imported to work at Tell el-Dab‘a through a process of royal gift exchange, which was negotiated via existing sea routes between the Aegean and Egypt.
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