Archaeologists working around the Mediterranean met two weeks ago in Cairo to discuss intercultural relations between the countries of the region. The conference focused on theoretical and methodological issues related to the study of intercultural contacts in archaeology on the one hand, and on actual case studies of intercultural contact on the other.
Papers presented at the meeting dealt with a wide variety of topics, including the methods and theory of the study of contacts in archaeology, immigration patterns in different countries including Egypt, trade and exchange, the import and local imitation of foreign objects, the adoption of foreign religious ideas, influences in artistic and architectural styles and seafaring.
Although ancient Egypt is often seen by the wider public as a unique, united and rather isolated culture, the presentations made clear that Egypt had many and far- reaching contacts all over the Mediterranean. Not only did Egyptian objects and ideas reach the furthest corners of the region, but Mediterranean people, ideas and objects were also welcomed in Egypt itself.
Owing to archaeological discoveries and research, it is now seen that ancient Egyptians were in contact with their neighbours from prehistoric times and not, as is often believed, only since the Open Door policy opened up trade with the European Union. To illustrate these connections, on the fringe of the conference the Netherlands- Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC) has mounted a panel exhibition on intercultural contact between ancient Egypt and other countries of the Mediterranean. The exhibition, entitled "Ancient Egypt in the Mediterranean" and held in the garden of the Egyptian Museum, was opened by Zahi Hawass, secretary- general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and will last until the end of December. It highlights the friendly relationship between ancient Egypt and its neighbouring countries around the Mediterranean Sea, as well as telling the story of foreign groups who lived in Egypt in ancient times. The exhibition displays the far-reaching influences Egypt had on its neighbours and its involvement with regard to the trade routes of the ancient Mediterranean, together with how ancient Egyptians adopted foreign technologies and ideas.
Friday, November 28, 2008
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