The role of war and violence in the formation of the ancient Egyptian state
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 01:41 authored by Adam Fazzolari
The formation of the Egyptian state is one of the most widely debated topics within the study of Early Egypt. Scholars have argued a variety of factors for state origins including agriculture, kinship and trade, but none has been more prolific than war. This study aims to investigate a wide variety of evidence for warfare in order to clarify the role and impact it had on the origin of the state. Discussions are sourced from three different areas which include anthropological theories and concepts, archaeological evidence and iconographic data. An understanding is therefore generated on the basis of both the theory and the evidence which indicates that warfare was not a major factor of state formation in Egypt. Although evidence for violence is present in the Predynastic Period, archaeological remains are consistent with conflict, not war. This suggests that while violence played a role, it was not to the extent of full-scale warfare. An analysis of violent motifs within the iconographic remains supports this hypothesis as depictions appear to be symbolic representations of the power of the king rather than depictions of warfare itself. A brief investigation into the presence of warfare during cultural and political unification which were important precursor to the state shows that war was not a factor in these evolutionary processes either.