Invited Paper: Transforming Egypt into the New Kingdom: The Movement of Ideas and Technology across Geopolitical, Cultural and Social Borders

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Egypt witnessed significant political, cultural and social transformations between the Middle and New Kingdoms. According to current sociological and anthropological theories of change, all such developments involve dynamic and multifaceted processes that could be influenced by both internal as well as external elements. In Egyptology, several have been tied to specific agents, periods and historical events, such as Thutmose III and his domination over Near Eastern locales, or the Amarna Period’s diplomatic pursuits and political reforms. The Hyksos have also been typically associated with the introduction of a host of ideas and entities from the Near East, including the horse, the chariot, as well as a number of weapons and even musical instruments. The validity and extent of their impact on Egyptian culture, technology and society, however, remains insufficiently addressed, especially in accordance with extant and recently published evidence from Egypt and the Near East. Only a handful of studies has thus far attempted to explore the inherent complexities linked with the movement, adoption, and adaptation of concepts across geopolitical, cultural and social ‘borders’, and a smaller number still has preliminarily sought to examine a wider temporal, geographical and social framework for these developments.
This paper presents the findings of a reassessment of religious, technological, and socio-political transformations tied to encounters with the Near East, particularly in the late Twelfth to Fifteenth Dynasties, that fully manifested by the New Kingdom. It provides an overview of the interplay between the movement of ‘foreign’ ideas and technology, and social, political, cultural and institutional factors. It stresses that adoptions and transformations are interrelated with (a) the features of a concept/object itself, including required materials, technological know-how or connection with other cultural and technological elements, and (b) those that are socially-structured, such as socio-political needs and shifts, or ties to group identity or status. Accordingly, knowledge transmission and its eventual manifestation could be hindered, delayed, or promoted to varying degrees, and could involve elite and non-elite groups, as well as local, regional, and/or supra-regional trends. In essence, such mechanisms prove the pertinence of both continuity and change, as Egypt transformed into the New Kingdom.
Period6 Dec 2019
Event titleChanging Clusters and Migrations in the Near Eastern Bronze Age: The Enigma of the Hyksos Workshop
Event typeWorkshop
LocationVienna, AustriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational