Week 6: Changes in Foreign Policy

Throughout ancient Egypt there have been shifts in foreign policy. From predynastic to the third intermediate period we have seen significant changes and similarities in political, cultural and religious aspects. In this weeks lecture we discussed in detail about the change of foreign policy during the New Kingdom. This has led me to try to assemble how foreign policy differs from the second intermediate period to that of the third.

The Middle Kingdom arose through military and political expansion initiated by a line of provincial rulers until that is when the Hyksos, of which we learned last week, were on the verge of controlling Egypt during the second intermediate period. When the Hyksos were eradicated a new dynasty emerged, which led to the rise of the New Kingdom. During the 18th Dynasty foreign policy was aggressive, offensive, and imperialistic. Response to the occupation of the Hyksos and reaction to the change in the greater political sphere on the Near East was taking place. In order to make sure Egypt would not undergo the same empowerment of outsiders, buffer zones were established. In the eyes of Egyptians now, enemies lay close. It is during the New Kingdom that the Amarna letters would shed light on Egyptian relations with others. They represented a new sense of diplomacy that had replaced the military campaigns of the early New Kingdom. Foreign policy of the New Kingdom shifted from being overtly militaristic and imperialistic in reaction from the Hyksos occupation to a wider politic-sphere. Not only does it shift from the Near East to a more diplomatic policy which was represented by Amarna letters but  as well as economic, which was represented by voyages and economic expeditions to Punt. At the end of the 18th Dynasty, the end of the Amarna period, significant social and religious, political and bureaucratic change had taken place. The administrative capital had moved back to Thebes and the economic power of the old cults of Amun restored. This all leads up to the third intermediate period which is not like any other intermediate periods. There are long periods of stability and chronic instability. It is here we see the development of the hereditary priesthood of Amun.

Sources:

Watrall, Ethan. (2012). Lecture videos, Week 5 and 6.