The comparisons at the heart of this article concern the varying roles of cuneiform texts, instrumental analysis and artefacts at the Bronze Age capital of Alalakh, located in the northeastern Mediterranean region of southern Turkey. The production of fine artefacts, such as sophisticated metallurgy, glass, faience, ivory carving and, especially, bronze, was under palace patronage, while trade and the networks of inter-regional relations facilitated the transport of materials across great distances in the ancient Near East. Several lines of evidence suggest that exchange relationships between Alalakh and the Middle Bronze Age central Anatolian kingdoms, such as Kanesh, were established prior to the arrival of Hattusili I. One category of artefact, ivory and bone with metallic embellishments, is emphasised here since the crafting of ivory and bone entails the use of local resources, while the plating with precious metals reflects artistic expression and exploitation that is international in scope. Several analytical techniques are presented, such as lead isotope ratios, scanning electron microscopy and polarizing light microscopy, which have aided in defining the artistic expression of Alalakh and the production of artefacts of power and prestige.