It is a well-established fact that the population of Ancient Egypt was a multicultural one, and that the nation's history is closely linked with that of it's neighbours. `It has been recognized since the early years of Egyptology that by New Kingdom times the population of Egypt was liberally sprinkled with families of foreign origin.' (Ward: 1994.). These `foreigners' included groups such as Nubians, Canaanites, `Asiatics,' (people of Semitic origin to the north-east of Egypt), and Libyans.
In geographical terms the land of Egypt is fairly isolated, and cut off from most of its neighbouring countries by harsh desert. (Gardiner: 1964). This must have had an effect on the ideology of its inhabitants, who in early times probably had an insular view of the world. In the Egyptian creation myths Heliopolis is described as the centre of the world, as the first dry land to emerge from the waters of Nun. This shows that from the beginning the Egyptians considered themselves as the heart of the Earth and sustained by the sun-god, whereas lands around were arid, harsh and ruled by chaos. There is little archaeological evidence from Predynastic Egypt concerning `foreigners,' which could be indicative of this introverted perspective.
In predynastic times the neighbours of Egypt were known collectively as the `Nine Bows.' Kings were granted the title of, `master of the bows.' The fact that foreigners were described in terms of weapons could indicate associations of violence, and show that Egyptians regarded their neighbours as enemies. From the Middle Kingdom onwards the `nine bows' began to be associated with specific peoples. This shows a progression in the Egyptian mindset as it suggests that Egyptians had an increased awareness of t...
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