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

By Mario Liverani | Go to book overview

25
The Ideology of Life

The pattern of centralization requires an explanation for the conduct of the periphery. Why do the outer countries surrender their goods without mention of any return? No mystery surrounds the determination of the central state to obtain more wealth and establish its power but why does the periphery submit to it?

Egyptian ideology does not ignore this problem. Obviously the reasons proclaimed in the celebrative texts do not make the relationship between centre and periphery more balanced; on the contrary, they provide additional prestige to the former. The reasons are rather stereotyped, and concern the pivotal concept of ‘life'; yet they are applied to different political and military situations in different ways. When the transfer of goods takes place following a battlefield victory or expedition bent on plunder, the outer country receives no return, not even at the ideological level. In fact, since it has refused to enter into any relationship with Egypt and offered nothing but war, its people – a purely passive element – are either killed or despoiled. The stelae of Amenophis II, for instance, insert after every victory of the Pharaoh a ‘list of the booty’ taken, and the same pattern is followed in the Annals of Tuthmosis III. 1

In other cases the enemy, on the point of being defeated, decides to surrender and give up his goods in order to avoid being killed:

Do not overwhelm us! Lo, your might is great, your strength is heavy upon the land of Hatti. Is it good that you slay your servants, your face savage toward them and without pity? Be not hard in your dealing, victorious king! Peace is better than fighting. Give us breath! 2

Pharaoh should reasonably accept the offered submission, since a live servant is more useful than a dead one; not only will he deliver his goods

-160-

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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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