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Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt

(Cracow, Poland: 28th August - 1st September 2002)
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The Unified Egyptian State. The Outlook from the East

Galina A. BELOVA

Center for Egyptological Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moskou (Russia)


The excavations of the temple complex at Tell Ibrahim Awad help fill some of the gaps in the history of the rise of the Egyptian kingdom and not only confirm Seidlmayer's opinions on this subject but also allow us to develop some of his statements. A complex pattern of interactions was taking place on the southern and northern boarders of Egypt before and throughout the reign of the 1st Dynasty kings. In the beginning of this period the frontier zone along the coast of Sinai up into southern Canaan was populated by a mix of Egyptian and native inhabitants and peppered with settlements and trade points. This pattern ends with the close of the 1st Dynasty. Similar changes took place in the south. These developments on the northern and southern borders of the Pre/Protodynastic Egyptian State were connected with major changes within Egypt itself, which were particularly manifest in important centers such as Abydos, Hierakonpolis, Elephantine, where we see fortified towns replacing scattered settlements. No doubt this is related to the establishment of clear borders and the need to enforce them. The erection of fortresses and the control of foreign trade is intimately connected with the unification of the Egyptian state and coincides with an aggressive program of temple-building. The latter structures were under the protection of local deities and celebrated the cult of the king who was both the singular expression of the state's unity and the embodiment of its will to power.

Additionally, offerings to the cult of the king may have provided a focal point for the national economy as far back as the Early Dynastic period. Hence, the objectives of the first Egyptians kings included establishing and securing the borders of the State, laying claim to frontier territories and managing the economic, political and religious integration of the whole country.

It seems very likely that the temples in the border areas were erected as part of one single project both as a result of and a statement regarding the unification of Egypt To sum up, Tell Ibrahim Awad is of great significance both in terms of religion and policy. Perhaps the conjectures and ideas given above will be confirmed in the course of the further excavations and clarify the uncertain picture which we have of the appearance of the unified kingdom in Egypt.



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