Aspects of Technology and Trade in Egypt
and the Eastern Mediterraneanduring the Late Bronze Age
The genesis for this work was the discovery of part of a cake of
Egyptian Blue during excavations conducted by Liverpool Universityon the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, 300 km west of Alexandria and
25 km west of Mersa Matruh.
The site at Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham is the location for what is
probably the furthest west in a chain of fortresses built by Ramesses
ii in response to growing threats approaching Egypt from Libya
during the Late Bronze Age. A substantial square installation with
perimeter walls 140 metres long enclosed what was essentially a
small town, and excavations have already revealed temples,
magazines, houses, and wells. The occupants of the site
manufactured their own pottery for daily use, and there is evidence
that their diet included meat, fish and vegetables.
That this was supplemented by imported produce is shown by large
quantities of foreign ceramics found at the site, which would havecontained products such as olive oil and wine. Some of these were
found in Magazine 1 in association with a group of different
pigments. These included part of a large cake of Egyptian blue, and
substantial lumps of white, yellow, green and red. This thesis
addresses the question of whether, by the Nineteenth Dynasty, some
of the colour material used in Egypt was being imported from abroad.
The finds are compared with pigments at other sites in Egypt, and
there is discussion of possible Egyptian manufacturing sites. The
technology and uses of Egyptian Blue in particular are discussed, as
are the people who made and used the material.
Egyptian Blue is then placed firmly within the wider context of silicate
technology with discussion of, and comparison with, falence and
glass industries both in Egypt and in neighbouring countries in the
Mediterranean and the Near East.
The final section examines general issues concerning trade and'
exchange in the Late Bronze Age, and then concludes with discussion
of the role played by Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham.