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Department of Archaeology


My project for the McDonald Institute investigates the interplay of institutional authorities, private citizens, localities, and global networks in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 16th-12th centuries BC), the first phase of globalization in world history. Globalization is not only an issue of connectivities and networks, but it also depends on the agency of individuals and social groups at the local level that generate alternative configurations of power, either in concert or in contrast with governments and institutional authorities. This global-local connection will be examined in a Global Historical perspective and through a comparative study of place-specific situations, regardless of direct connections, in pharaonic Egypt and the Mediterranean port city of Ugarit in Syria. The choice of two fundamentally different polities enhances the potential for comparison because global processes manifest themselves differently in different localities, while different polities devise different strategies to deal with the opportunities and challenges of globalization. On the one hand, Egypt has been conceptualized as a territorial nation-state both from an etic (external) and emic (internal perspective), due not only to the Eurocentric nature of Egyptology, but also to the ancient Egyptians’ worldview. On the other hand, Ugarit is a prime example of those “global cities” that have been recognized as the real protagonists of globalization in the contemporary world. What this comparative study of globalization and society in Egypt and Ugarit may be able to clarify is how the pharaonic civilization may have related to global processes through the agency of specific cities and localities and their communities of citizens to a far greater extent than royal and institutional channels (e.g., imperialism and diplomacy).

My working hypothesis is that it was not through imperialism and diplomacy that Egypt sustained its geopolitical and economic status and projected it globally. On the contrary, Egypt was structurally less competitive than a global city such as Ugarit, and was forced to disperse power strategically across a wide range of locales and individual citizens therein in order to participate in the networks of Late Bronze Age globalization.


The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

Project Lead

Project Tags

Rethinking Complexity
Periods of interest: 
Copper/Bronze Age
Geographical areas: 
Egypt and Sudan
Mesopotamia and the Near East
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Socio-Politics of the Past
Egyptology and Egyptian Language
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