International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600-1100 B.C.

By Mario Liverani | Go to book overview

24
Self-sufficiency vs. Interdependence

In its extreme form, the redistributive model is a model of autarchy: everything necessary is to be found inside the oikos, be it the household or the state. If nevertheless certain products have to be obtained from the outside, two means are employed by the central state to overcome the ideological difficulty that this produces. First, the foreign goods are dismissed as coarse ‘raw materials’ that have no significance until processed and utilized by the only civilized country. Secondly, acquisition of the foreign goods is cited as evidence of central control of the entire world; thus self-sufficiency is extended rather than renounced.

As for the practice of exchanging goods, this contrasts with the autarchy model so sharply as to be noticed by the parties concerned, especially when the strength of the desire for interaction and pride in self-sufficiency vary between them. To the Egyptian king, who presumably claimed to need nothing, the Babylonian king replies:

As I am told that in my brother's country there is everything and my brother is in need of nothing, so also in my country there is everything and I too am in need of nothing. But it is a good thing received from olden times, from the previous kings, to send gifts to each other. Let this habit remain established between us! 1

It may be observed that Egypt, having at its disposal not only its own resources but also the exotic products of Nubia and Syria-Palestine, really was self-sufficient. As a result, Pharaoh has little interest in exchange with the Asiatic kings, and negotiates with an evident lack of interest and even annoyance. By contrast, the Asiatic kings are dependent on Egypt for gold, as well as for ivory, ebony, incense and all of the other products of Africa. In consequence, they reveal a much greater interest in the exchange

-155-

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International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600-1100 B.C.
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Territory and Borders 15
  • 1 - Inner vs. Outer Territory 17
  • 2 - Universal Control 23
  • 3 - The Boundaries of the World 29
  • 4 - Symbolic Attainment of the World Border 34
  • 5 - The Coexistence of Different States 38
  • 6 - Moving Borders 46
  • 7 - The Boundary as a Watershed for Taxation 52
  • 8 - The Boundary as a Watershed for Responsibilities 57
  • 9 - Runaways and Extradition 66
  • 10 - Messengers and ‘Ambassadors’ 71
  • Part II - War and Alliance 77
  • 11 - The One Against Many 79
  • 12 - War as Elimination of the Rebels 86
  • 13 - Conquest as a Cosmic Organization 91
  • 14 - Peace as Submission 97
  • 15 - Ordeal by War 101
  • 16 - The Rules of War 108
  • 17 - The Battle of Megiddo 116
  • 18 - Peace as Mutual Recognition 122
  • 19 - The Ideology of Protection 128
  • 20 - The Ideology of Brotherhood 135
  • Part III - Circulation of Goods 139
  • 21 - Priority and Continuity of the Redistributive Pattern 141
  • 22 - Intervention of the Reciprocal Pattern 146
  • 23 - Accumulation vs. Circulation 151
  • 24 - Self-Sufficiency vs. Interdependence 155
  • 25 - The Ideology of Life 160
  • 26 - Hatshepsut and Punt: Trade or Tribute? 166
  • 27 - Wen-Amun and Zakar-Ba'Al: Gift or Trade? 170
  • 28 - The Annals of Tuthmosis Iii: Tribute or Gift? 176
  • 29 - The Origins of Tribute 183
  • 30 - Equal vs. Unequal Marriages 189
  • 31 - Conclusions 196
  • Chronologies 203
  • Notes 205
  • Index 233
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