Matt Salgot Week 2 Post

In this weeks post I want to take the chance to examine grave goods in a little more detail and what exactly archaeologist are able to learn from them. I specifically want to look at the connection between grave goods and the possible trade networks that emerged between ancient Egyptian civilizations and the neighboring societies.

One of the major problems that archaeologist have is attempting to discover the ways in which ancient societies interacted with one another. However, by closely examining the grave goods of burial sites there are many clues to help unravel these mysteries. The site that I wanted to talk about is the tomb of King Semerkhet. This is the site where the entrance ramp to the burial area is saturated in perfumed oil up to three feet deep. It is believed that this oil was obtained from trade with Palestine. To be able to leave a scent trail that spans 5,000 years is quiet impressive and this is a testament to the massive amount of perfume oil needed. Which in turn shows the importance of trade between these two societies. While it would seem that most of these trade goods were for the burials of the elites of Egyptian society, it proves that trade was an important aspect of ancient Egyptian life.

Another aspect of grave goods that I found interesting was Flinders Petrie’s Sequence Dating system. It is simply amazing to me the accuracy with which he was able to show the chronological order of the evolution of Egyptian pottery. By looking at this evolution of pottery archaeologist are able to see from where and when certain types of pottery spread through out Egypt itself. While this is a more limited range of trade, it maybe even more important than the long distance trade between societies. By looking at the diffusion of pottery through out Egypt it allows for an accurate description of how Egyptians interacted and traded within their own boarders. While grave goods are able to explain many different aspects of Egyptian society, the variety of goods testifies to the development of important trade networks between the different societies in and around the Nile delta area.

3 thoughts on “Matt Salgot Week 2 Post

  1. I think you made a really good point about grave goods being indicators of trading systems. Flinders Petrie was able to use sequence dating to identify the relative age of the sites and put them in a chronological order. However, another aspect of that is finding a site that has no apparent connection to the previous archaeological site, and yet finding similar pottery styles. This would allow you do relatively date the new site and hypothesize that there was trade between the two sites.
    The two sites may be linked in other ways too, maybe this was where a band of people moved to, or the pottery style was learned by the inhabitants of the second site. Either way having a sequence dating system at one site will help date another site with with the same pottery styles.
    The perfumed ramp had to be quite a find! The reading this week was the first I had ever heard of it. It makes me wonder if King Semerkhet’s tomb is one of a kind, or if this would be found in other undisturbed tombs? Either way it seems to be an eccentric and lavish burial.

  2. Matt, I found your post to be super interesting. I, myself was interested in the grave goods and the differences between lower and higher class ranked citizens. I find your information about the tomb of King Semerkhet to be very fascinating. The fact that they went through all that work in order to make his tomb’s scent last for such a long period of time is quite extraordinary. Just the mere fact of finding tombs is exciting. Like you stated, the connection between these civilizations and neighboring societies taking act in trading seems to have paid off. It’s very interesting that they would have went through all this trouble for one many who reigned for only 8 1/2 years. Because I was so fascinated with his tomb I took some time and upon researching I found that there is virtually nothing known about his Semerkhet’s family. His parents are unknown but there is stipulation that an ancient king may have been his father.

    Pertaining to the second half of your post, Flinders Petrie’s use of sequence dating to identify the relative ages of sites and putting them in chronological order all due to pottery is truly remarkable. That man had a real gift.

  3. This was definitely an interesting post to read. I knew that the Ancient Egyptians used perfumes but I had no idea that they actually allowed it to soak into the ground. And the fact that one particular area has lasted for over 5,000 years really blows my mind! It definitely makes sense that the perfumed ramp was used in a king’s tomb: only the royal and/or rich could afford expensive perfumes, and they most likely wanted every aspect of their wealth to be buried along with them.
    What you said about the perfume being a sign of trade also made a lot of sense. The Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea made it really easy to communicate and trade with neighboring societies like Syria, and the islands of Cyprus and Crete (where wine and oil were traded for various other items). Another way items from other areas were brought to Egypt was when visitors would bring gifts and offerings to the pharaoh. In this way, items like wine, oil, copper, gold, ivory, exotic animal skins and countless other goods and materials found their way to Egypt.
    This post also made me think about how much Egypt has influenced other peoples, and to me, the Romans have adopted a large part of Egyptian culture, as shown when you see the obelisk (called Cleopatra’s Needle) in the middle of St. Peter’s square.

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