chapter  9
32 Pages

EGYPT'S VIEWS OF 'OTHERS'

Every representation of a foreigner can be identified, via his or her distinctive skin tone, hair treatment, dress and accoutrements, as the inhabitant of a specific, named region, such as Nubia or various parts of the Levant, the Aegean or Libya. The two most common generic terms for foreigners were histyw and 'the Nine Bows'. 'The Nine Bows' is written literally with a bow followed by, or placed over, nine vertical signs standing for 'nine.' Egyptians and Egypt were therefore sharply distinguished from foreigners and foreign lands in speech and writing, and also in art, but in more specific ways. Metaphorical brutality towards foreigners is usual in many Egyptian texts, and actual brutality of the kind evinced by Amenophis II may have been relatively common. The chapter structures around the issues of actuality, ideology and belief. It outlines what is known of Egypt's foreign relations over the millennia and characterizes the variety seen in those relationships.