EGYPTIAN POTTERY IN CANAAN:1 IMPLICATIONS
FOR EGYPTIAN RULE IN CANAAN DURING
THE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH DYNASTIES
Ann E. Killebrew
Egyptian domination was a key factor that defined and shaped Canaan during the Late Bronze Age. Numerous New Kingdom texts attest to ongoing Egyptian economic interests in the region and describe military campaigns to curb uprisings and suppress rebellious Canaanite rulers. In spite of the wealth of textual evidence, the significance of Egyptian-style artifacts found in the southern Levant remains a topic of lively debate and speculation. Theories range from “direct rule” to “elite emulation,” the latter a model proposed by C. Higginbotham who attributes Egyptian-style artifacts found in Canaan to emulation by the local elite.2 However in this scholarly discussion, the implications of Egyptian-style pottery found in Canaan have not been properly addressed. Through an examination of the 13th and early 12th century Egyptian-style pottery corpus in Canaan, I propose that there is overwhelming evidence for a noteworthy Egyptian presence at a number of strategically located administrative and military garrison towns in Canaan. Considered in light of the historical texts, the archaeological evidence points to a policy of targeted “direct rule” or Egyptian imperialism in Canaan, rather than elite emulation or colonization.
1 I am pleased to dedicate this article to Donald Redford who is one of the very
few scholars who has successfully integrated ancient texts, material culture and Bible in
his studies of ancient Egypt, Canaan and Israel. His classic masterpiece, Egypt, Canaan,
and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), is the standard
publication for cross-cultural relations between Egypt and Canaan in antiquity.
2 See C. Higginbotham, “Elite Emulation and Egyptian Governance in Ramesside
Canaan,” TA 23 (1996) 154–69 who terms J. Weinstein's approach as the “direct
rule” model; see J. Weinstein, “The Egyptian Empire in Palestine: A Reassessment,”
BASOR 241 (1981) 1–28; idem, “The Collapse of the Egyptian Empire in the Southern
Levant,” in The Crisis Years: The 12th Century BC From Beyond the Danube to the Tigris
(eds. W. A. Ward and M. S. Joukowsky; Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing
Company, 1992) 142–50.