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Egyptian Foreign Interactions during the Early Dynastic period

posted on 19.05.2020, 04:02 authored by Caleb R. Hamilton
Egyptian foreign interactions during the Early Dynastic period have been the subject of varied academic attention. This has often been through specific case studies, targeting particular sites or individual neighbouring regions of the Egyptian Nile Valley. There have only been a few attempts to provide a holistic analysis of the evidence for foreign interactions with all of these regions, and these dated studies can now be used in conjunction with a large number of recent discoveries in the Levant, the Sinai, the Eastern and Western Deserts, as well as Nubia.
   Evidence from each of these regions forms the subject of the present investigation, incorporating archaeological, textual, and artistic data to trace foreign interactions
chronologically between Egypt and the inhabitants or sites within these regions. These data suggest that there was a targeted approach by the Egyptians for each region, and also allows my study to highlight specific trends stemming from the interactions. The regional approach is subsequently drawn together in a discussion of all evidence, for each region and dynasty, providing the basis of a detailed conclusion on the nature and character of Egyptian foreign interaction during the Early Dynastic period, and the influence this had on the on-going process of state development.
   Fresh analysis of the evidence has allowed for a reinterpretation of the development of the Egyptian state. The nature and character of foreign interactions during
Dynasties One to Three reflects the unique approach that the Egyptian kings took towards the different regions with which they engaged for resource procurement, through military encounters, or in a colonial episode. It also allows for comments on how foreign interactions reflect the capabilities of the nascent Egyptian state and the impact this had on state development, or vice versa.
   This thesis demonstrates that the Egyptian kings, and by extension the Egyptian state, employed different types of interactions towards each region examined. The nature of these interactions was shaped by the resources available in reach region and the control and/or access to these. Tracing the evidence throughout the Early Dynastic period reveals that the Egyptians imposed specific identities on non-Egyptian cultures, which was in accordance with the ideology they were developing during this time. The presentation of these interactions conveyed a dominant Egyptian culture often depicted in an aggressive manner towards non-Egyptians. This particular way of exhibiting their world-view belies the economic motives behind the interactions, promoting a belligerent domination of the non-Egyptian world in accordance with the principals of ma’at. Importantly, this iconographic evidence is also coupled with archaeological evidence which helps to provide a better understanding of the nature of Egyptian interactions. Thus, the Egyptian state, from the time of Narmer, had the ability to conduct long distance and long-term trade, and the ability to engage in conflict beyond its borders. As part of the ongoing process of state formation, the Egyptians developed an administrative structure that could support the economic exploitation of peripheral areas away from the Nile Valley.


Principal supervisor

Colin A. Hope

Additional supervisor 1

Gillian Bowen

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Philosophical, Historical and International Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts