On the Egyptian diplomatic ties with the aegean during the reign of Necho II (610-595 BC)

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Abstract

This paper approaches the cross-cultural contacts between Egypt and the
Greek world during the 26th dynasty Egyptian “Saite” ruler Necho II (610–
595 BC). Saite rulers relied on foreign mercenaries as the backbone of their
military campaigns. As their imperial agenda grew, their military duties
increased, turning the Greek navy and heavy infantry into a strategic
pharaonic matter. Therefore, it was mandatory to develop a good diplomatic
relationship with the gateway for Greek mercenary manpower: the Aegean
and Ionian cities. The nature of such diplomatic ties was mostly based on
religious connections, and celebrated via Egyptian offerings in Greek
temples.
Polytheistic societies are familiar with the phenomenon of “translating”
foreign gods and pantheons. This translation of Greek gods into Egyptian
equivalents and vice-versa depends on a previous awareness of the other’s
culture. The acceptance that a given god is the representative of a universal
force, rather than a mere cultural element, promotes mutual tolerance and
respect. Plus, it enables the temple to become a place to stage foreign
policies as offerings of a victorious king in order to act as a recruitment tool.
What we may call “interpretatio graeca” or “interpretatio aegyptica” is the
product of intercultural relations that can be analysed under an anthropological
perspective for its iconographic and linguistic elements. Archaeological and literary sources allow us to debate the dynamics of the Greek-Egyptian
intercultural relations from a religious standpoint. The significant role
played by Rhodes in the Greek-Egyptian contacts of state character may be
reflected in the discovery of a series of faience inlays with the titulary of
Pharaoh Necho II from the Sanctuary of Athena at Ialysos. These may have
decorated a small shrine, as either a royal gift made for Necho II or items
commissioned by him.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImages, Perceptions and Productions in and of Antiquity
EditorsMaria Helena Trindade Lopes, André Patrício
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Chapter1
Pages130-136
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-1-5275-9275-9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Herodotus
  • Greeks in Egypt
  • Aigyptiaca
  • Aegean
  • Persian Empire
  • Late Period Egypt
  • Egyptology

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