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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Living and Dying Abroad: Aspects of Egyptian Cultural Identity in Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Canaan

  • Author(s): Pierce, Krystal Victoria Lords
  • Advisor(s): Wendrich, Willemina Z
  • et al.

This study employs a new methodological approach in examining Egyptian and Egyptianized material in the Levant, which entails a thorough analysis of a range of broad and narrow Late Bronze Age and early Iron Age contexts at three sites in the Levant, entirely from an Egyptian perspective and based on the cultural norms and praxis of New Kingdom Egypt. The analysis of material culture at Beth-Shean, Deir el-Balah, and Jaffa is accomplished through a theoretical framework of cultural identity, which examines the materiality, spatiality, and temporality of how cultural identity is generated, maintained, and exhibited, both in the homeland of Egypt, and abroad in Canaan. The three case studies focus on funerary, residential, and material contexts and cover an array of facets related to cultural identity, beginning with the expansive analysis of every burial in the two cemeteries at Beth-Shean and Deir el-Balah, subsequently shifting to the slightly more confined analysis of specific buildings at those two sites, and then narrowing down even further to focus on one aspect of material culture, ceramic vessels at Jaffa. The purpose of these broad and narrow case studies is not to substantiate the presence-or-absence of Egyptians at Beth-Shean, Deir el-Balah, and Jaffa, or the exclusive Egyptian use of the mortuary, residential, and ceramic material at these sites, but rather to investigate how an Egyptian would have interacted with the architecture, objects, and features of life and death in Canaan, based on the cultural norms and praxis of the Egyptian homeland, and how these interactions reveal information about an Egyptian cultural identity abroad.

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