For the final blog post I wanted to examine the relationship that developed between the Greek world and Egypt. There are several key events that help to strengthen and develop this peaceful coexistence. The first of these is due to the activities of the Persian Empire. Both Greece and Egypt viewed Persian as a threat and this provided them with a mutual interest to support each other.This growing alliance can be seen from the shift of the Egyptian capital to the western portion of the Delta. In a sense this can be viewed as a shift in the main trade partners of Egypt. They were no longer as interested in trade with their neighbors to the east.
The second major event to shape this relations ship resulted from the empire building of Alexander the Great. With his help Egypt was freed from the Persian Empire and would become even more closely linked with the Greek world. Even before this liberation was completed Egypt was receiving military assistance from the Greeks as Greek citizens and mercenaries were become more common in the Egyptian army. The strength of the Persian Empire was great and this caused Egypt and other states to ban together in order to deal with such a powerful neighbor.
The last important factor was simply the death of Alexander the Great. With his death his recently created empire was divided up and Egypt would enter the Ptolemaic Period. Since Egypt was controlled by foreigners from the Greek World, the political and economic partners of Egypt would become focused on Greece. Also during this time Egypt increased its already massive agriculture yields and this made Egypt an important region to control or be allied with. This increased amount of wheat production resulted in Egypt conducting most of its trade in food stuffs and shifted away from trade in elite goods like gold.
For this week’s blog I wanted to discuss the different styles of architecture that existed during the New Kingdom. These styles of construction are the Royal construction projects and the urban construction of towns and cities. Both of these areas can help to elaborate on the overall well being of Egyptian society.
During the New Kingdom these is a shift away from constructing massive individual burials towards more communal burial sites, such as the Valley of the Kings. What was the purpose of this shift? One possible reason is simply Egypt could no longer afford or no longer wanted to put as much resources into the construction of pyramids. One solution for reducing expenditures on royal burials is to condense the royal family tomb at one location. By doing this the Egyptians could either reuse burial sites or expand on the existing chambers whenever a new member needed to be buried. By condensing the royal family to one site, the Valley of the Kings, this could also save resources involved with rituals. There would be one temple site for the burial complex instead of one temple per pyramid or burial site.
Thanks to the site of Deir el-Medina archaeologist are able to learn about the planning and construction of urban centers. Unlike our cities that are composed of separate buildings, these Egyptian centers were very condensed and many of the building were sharing walls. The closeness of these buildings shows that the Egyptians were able to maximize the living space in these dwellings. This site also shows that great care was taken when planing the layout of a city. Due to the harshness of this region of the world a poorly designed city could be devastating to the inhabitants. If cities were not planned right they could have problems with supply their population with food and water, along with other necessitates for a city to function. However, Deir el-Medina shows that the Egyptians took these and other conditions into consideration when designing their cities.
For this weeks blog I want to examine the differences that emerge in the pharaohs power between the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom. While both of these periods were ruled over by pharaohs the Middle Kingdom pharaohs had experienced a great reduction in their power. One of the major pieces of evidence for these weaker pharaohs is the lack of great monuments being constructed, like the pyramids. There were a few pharaohs still attempting to build pyramids, however, they nothing compared to the pyramids of the Old Kingdom.
This overall lack of immense monumental public construction projects can provide some clues to the decline in the pharaohs political influence. The first thing this shows is that Egypt’s economy was not able to keep up with the expenses and this could result in a smaller national treasury. With less resources the pharaohs might not have been able to afford the workers labor costs.
A second area were the pharaohs appeared to have weakened is that of being able to supply the necessary workers. With the reduction of construction projects this could show that the pharaohs were no longer able to marshal the necessary manpower to create these super structures. Given the high pressures that these projected placed on Egypt’s citizenry and economy, it does seem that the construction of the pyramids would not be constructed continuously throughout all of Egyptian history.
Another important factor that helped contribute to the reduced power of the pharaohs is the competition Egypt was experiencing from its neighbors. During the later part of the Middle Kingdom Egypt was put in a tough position when Lower Egypt was taken over by the Hyksos people and this group was allied with Nubia. When put into this position Egypt would have had to focus on their defenses so they would not be taken over. If the pharaohs lost more land they would become unpopular and in turn this could lead to even weaker pharaohs taking the throne.
For this weeks blog post I have decided to look at the many factors that helped ancient Egypt to be able to build such massive structures as the pyramids. The three factors that I want to discuss is that of the strong centralized government, the presence of a strong economy, and lastly the ability to marshal the necessary manpower. Through these three factors the architecture of ancient was able to expand to unprecedented levels.
The ability of the Old Kingdom and the early pharaohs to build these is directly connected to the emergence of a strong centralized government. This was the first key for the successful building of super structures and also provided the basis for the other necessary factors of construction. With the successful unification of all of Egypt, the vast amount of resources were now available to a single individual.
The second factor that allowed for such explosive growth in structure size is the presence of a strong economy. As we have seen in past lectures ancient Egypt was an important country in the trade network of this region of the world. As such the pharaohs would be able to acquire the necessary raw materials that were used in these construction projects. With the presence of this strong economy they would be able to cope with the high demands placed on food. Being able to keep the workforce fed and healthy would limit the amount of down time on production that could occur from a weak workforce.
The last factor that I wanted to touch on is the ability of the pharaohs to marshal the necessary manpower. With the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt the whole countries population was now at the service of one man. This allowed for workers to drawn in to the work areas in phases, which divided the work force so there would always be the maximum number of workers presence while at the same time still keeping the economy alive.
The centralized nature of the government, their strong economy, and their ability to divide the labor among the whole country, all played major roles in the creation of the super structures know as the Pyramids.
During this weeks lecture and assigned readings the main focus was on the development of complex society in Egypt and the possible methods used for unification. There are several topics that I would like to discuss from the Theories of State Formation reading by E. Christiana Kohler and An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt.
The first of these is the idea of bureaucracy and administration development. These are very important aspects to be able to create and maintain a successful society. While these could develop regionally or even for individual cities, having a sound administration system can allow for quicker development. Closely related to these ideas is that of trade and the creation of reliable trade networks. From the combination of these ideas we are able to see the development of social inequality, which is the first step for a society to develop into a larger and more complex system. Due to the inequalities that exist, the wealthy are able gather more of these networks under their own control and this could present problems with their neighboring administrations.
This brings me to my second point I wanted to discuss, the idea of unification through military conflicts. While there is very little actual archaeological evidence for this in Egypt their are a few interesting artifacts. The first is that of the Narmer Palette. This piece shows Narmer with symbols of kingship and at the same time the destruction of another city in Lower Egypt. The second artifact of interest is the Scorpion Mace. The thing I find interesting about this piece is the presence of the dead birds that are suppose to represent populations in Lower Egypt.
Both of these artifacts can give some credit to military interventions and the possibility that the unification of the Egyptian populations was through force. What were the reasons for military action? I think that it can be answered by looking at the administration systems that were developing. As these grew whoever controlled the administration of the country would become immensely rich and gain tremendous power over all of Egypt. This seems like the kind of thing people would take military action to obtain. So I think that it is possible that over a period of time all of these individual administrations were absorbed into the larger and more successful administrations either through force or economic means.
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.
Hello everyone my name is Matt Salgot and I am a senior here at State. I am majoring in History and after this summer session I will be done and graduated. I’m planning on working in museums and I am looking forward to it. I am taking this class to meet my requirements to graduate and also because the history of the ancient Mediterranean is one of my favorite areas of history.
In my free time i like to relax with friends and watch movies and TV shows. One of the shows I am looking forward to the most is the new season of Breaking Bad, it is probably my favorite show on TV right now. I also enjoy sports I think i might be a little to competitive for my own good. I grew up bowling and playing baseball so these are by far my favorite sports.
I am looking forward to learning more about Egypt. This is the first class i have taken that focuses on Egypt and this is a very important region for human history. I hope that after studying this impressive society I will be able to better understand the ways in which culture has advanced and spread through out the whole world. I look forward to studying this interesting topic with everyone.