AIA Event Listings – Maritime History and Archaeology in Ancient Egypt

Lecture by Professor Pearce Paul Creasman of the University of Arizona.

Most often associated with desert sands and pyramids, ancient Egyptian culture arose from the Nile and depended upon the river and neighboring seas. The enormous wealth and power of the pharaohs was made possible only by the “superhighway” of the Nile. The stones that built the royal monuments, the Nubian gold that flowed into the treasury, and the armies that expelled foreign rulers all traveled by boat. As Egyptian concerns did not end with the Nile, neither did its naval reach. Egyptian fleets sailed the Red Sea and the Mediterranean in search of exotic cargos, and foreign ships moored at Egyptian harbors, creating an international tapestry of Bronze Age and Iron Age trade.

With their longstanding and necessary reliance on the Nile, oases, and seas, it should come as no surprise that the ancient inhabitants of Egypt regularly incorporated the life-sustaining waters in their material and spiritual worlds. Indeed, ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman ingenuity often circumvented natural geological barriers, resulting in the redirection of these bodies of water, if only partial or temporary (e.g., for irrigation, military transport). Diverse archaeological and historical investigations of maritime interaction during Egypt’s ancient periods abound and this presentation provides a brief history and review of the field of study (discussing topics as diverse as early dynastic [ca. 3000 BCE] boat…

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