Trade routes and fierce disputes: the disruption of trade routes in the Amarna letters

Louise M. Pryke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the influence of inter-vassal strife on interruptions to traditional trade routes in 14th Century Canaan, with particular emphasis on the Egyptian vassal city of Byblos. Rib-Addi, vassal-mayor of Byblos, can be seen in the Amarna letters to frequently complain of a reduced supply of grain, notably from the city of Yarimuta. This lack of grain supply appears to be a significant factor in increasing internal stability problems within the city of Byblos, contributing to the building threat of revolt from the peasantry. This paper will explore the changing state of trade routes in Canaan of the Amarna Period, during the time of the reigns of Amenophis III and Akhenaton. It will be argued that inter-vassal warfare had a disruptive influence on traditional trade routes in the region, to the detriment of domestic stability in vassal cities such as Byblos. It will be argued further that the issue of grain supply in Canaan was politically significant, with accusations of disruption of grain distribution and misappropriation of resources being reported to Pharaoh from both sides of the dispute.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalARAM Periodical
Issue number1&2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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