Ancient Trade Routes

The most interesting topic discussed this week is the subject of ancient trade routes.  As mentioned in this week’s readings and lecture, many cultural groups have been named after specific regions or sites where a similar grouping of archaeological artifacts has been uncovered. Extensive archaeological excavation of Egypt has revealed a clear demarcation of populations and cultures between Upper and Lower Egypt, going back as far as the predynastic period.  This demarcation is of note because when archaeologists began to see culturally specific artifacts (i.e. pottery) emerging in regions where they were previously not observed it indicated a potential trade network between two geographically separate cultures and culture groups.  This trade network, however, was often one-sided.  An example of a one-sided trade network was observed with the Naqada culture.  Archaeological investigation suggests that while Egyptian goods were exported to Nubia and have been found in A-Group burials, A-Group goods were of little interest further north (Bard 2008:102).  The movement of trade goods is also interesting to the Egyptian Archaeologist because it has relevance for the understanding of intrapersonal relationships and population movement.  Trade routes are important for the movement of not only material goods, but also religion, language, and disease.  As goods are not moving from one region to another by themselves, material goods are being transported by people and these people will inevitably interact with the culture group with whom they are trading.  From an anthropological perspective, trade is particularly important to the study of culture contact and the rise of civilization.  Therefore, the study of ancient trade routes has practical applications within the field of anthropology ranging from something as simple as developing a clear understanding of the movement of material goods, to something as complex as developing a foundation upon which to build a theoretical construction of the rise of ancient Egyptian civilization.

1 thought on “Ancient Trade Routes

  1. Trading of material goods are definitely an important topic in helping Archaeologists to understand and learn more about a particular culture of interest. In the case of the ancient Egyptians, because of climate change people were forced to migrate to a different region in order to find a suitable place to live. With them went their material goods and cultural traditions. As we have learned in class the Fayum became a place where life could flourish and had attracted different ethnic people from far away lands. This attractive region allowed these different wanderers and settlers to interact and trade material goods with one another.
    Trading of material goods and social interactions do leave evidence for archaeologists, bringing light to what cultures were interacting around a certain period of time as well as their trade routes. In class Ethan had spoke about the northern end of the Fayum provided much archaeological evidence that assumes this region could have been used as a place for commercial goods. So yes I definitely agree with you that trading and social interaction allow archaeologists to develop some conclusions of what was occurring around this Neolitic and Predynastic period in ancient Egypt. This type of interactions created different cultural practices between Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt as archaeologists have determined.

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