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.