Exploiting the Desert Riches in the Context of Ancient Egyptian Worldview of the Old and Middle Kingdoms

Vostok/Oriens '2013, №1

The article deals with ideological and world outlook problems connected with ancient Egyptian quarrying and mining activity during the Old and Middle Kingdoms. The development of the ancient Egyptian perception of the desert mineral riches had three main stages. These stages do not correspond completely to the classical scheme of ancient Egyptian political history but correlate well with stages of pharaonic expeditionary activity and foreign policy. During the Old Kingdom the desert areas (xAs.t) were considered a sphere of the exclusive royal responsibility. Since the end of the Old Kingdom (the VII dynasty onwards) there was a steady trend towards ideological justification of private economic activities outside the Nile Valley which were carried out under the patronage of a local deity. The reforms of Sesostris I put an end to this tendency. From his reign onwards at the forefront of the expeditionary discourse came the ancient legend of Geb’s legacy. The idea that the king inherited the desert riches directly from the earth god Geb dominated the tradition till the end of the Middle Kingdom.

Keywords: Ancient Egypt, desert, expeditions, mines, quarries, cult

Pages: С. 33–46

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