November 1, 2012

Ancient Egyptian and Travel in Asia

Travel In Asia
On the outer wall of his Egyptian Sun Temple, Sahure is depicted triumphing over Libyans on the south side and Asiatics on the north side. These were ‘sand-dwellers’, nomads of Libyan and Semitic origin. Those to the east, in Sinai, lived chiefly upon the milk of their flocks of goats and sheep. Though some groups settled around springs where they tilled the soil, their existence was precarious. They had to supplement their provisions from Egypt and not surprisingly the sight of the riches in the northeastern Delta awoke in them an instinct to pillage. There are records of incursions into Egyptian territory from early times. Towards the end of the 5th dynasty and during the 6th they had become particularly bold and were continually raiding the Egyptians in the eastern Delta as well as in Wadi Maghera mines in Sinai.

It was to quell these revolts that Uni had recruited Egyptian Nubian tribes into a fighting force. After scattering the enemy he gathered his untrained troops on the frontier at the ‘Isle of the North’ (probably somewhere in the region of Ismailia) and set out into the desert. He advanced as far as Wadi Arish where the southern tribes finally submitted. Those to the north of Sinai, however, whose seaboard was the Mediterranean, threatened to dispute Egypt for possession of the land, and Uni decided to attack them from the sea. The Egyptian fleet carried his forces to Tiba, to the north of Wadi Arish, and after a successful campaign Egypt continued to work the mineral mines in Sinai without threat.

Having established Egyptian control of Sinai, Uni led incursions into the populous areas near the south of the Dead Sea where his now-experienced contingent quelled a revolt on the coast of southern Palestine, beating the enemy to the highlands of Palestine, the most northern point to which the Egyptian pharaohs of the Old Kingdom advanced.

As a result of the newly born power of the noblemen, Egyptian influence in Asia might have continued, had the country not been torn by the internal problems that caused the collapse of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Particularly interesting, however, is the totally unwarlike spirit at that time. Though the Egyptians looked with contempt on the ‘sand-dwellers’ and the ‘barbarians’ who were their neighbours, Uni’s autobiography text, typical of the period, rings more of pride in a mission successfully accomplished than of aggression.

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