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As developed in the fields of anthropology and sociology, the concept of ethnicity offers one possible approach to analyzing diversity in the population of ancient Egypt. However, it is important that ethnicity not be elided with foreign-ness, as has often been the case in Egyptological literature. Ethnicity is a social construct based on self-image, and thus may be difficult to identify in the ancient sources, where a monolithic uniformity of “Egyptian” versus “other” prevails. A range of sources does suggest that ethnic difference operated within the indigenous population throughout Egyptian history, as would be expected in any complex society. This discussion explores these sources and suggests ways of thinking about the negotiation of ethnic identity in ancient Egypt.

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