January 4, 2016

No collapse?

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 8:06 pm

Did Egypt’s Old Kingdom Die—or Simply Fade Away?“The majority view today is that the Old Kingdom did not come to an end all of a sudden,” says Thomas Schneider, professor of Egyptology at the University of British Columbia. Instead, he and others say that climate stress affected different parts of Egypt in different ways—and not always for the worst. “We need to move away from this idea of collapse,” he says.

Much of the 20th-century view of the period between the Old Kingdom’s demise and the start of the Middle Kingdom—what Egyptologists call the First Intermediate Period—is based on a text called the “Admonitions of Ipuwer” that tells the story of a society in turmoil. “Everywhere barley has perished and men are stripped of clothes, spice, and oil,” reads one passage. “Everyone says: ‘There is none.’ The storehouse is empty and its keeper is stretched on the ground.”

Seems like most of these “collapses” (cf. Maya) are falling by the wayside. I vaguely recall writing something about this at some point, but I can’t find it anywhere. Not sure where the idea of collapses came about, but I suspect it may have to do with the way archaeologists structured their observations: phases and periods and the like. If you cut your time into little boxes then *something* has to explain what appear to be rapid changes “between the lines” as it were.

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