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The Appropriation of Egyptian Symbolism in Late Bronze Age Burials of the Levant: Towards an Entangled History of Culture Contact

During the Bronze Age, Egypt and the Levant shared a close relationship shaped by factors such as geographical proximity, historical interactions, migrations, and cultural similarities. While certain funerary customs during the Early Bronze Age exhibit commonalities between these regions, notable differences exist in their beliefs regarding the afterlife. Egyptians envisioned a joyful and eternal afterlife, whereas Levantine people conceived of a gloomy underworld devoid of judgment, punishment, or reward.

The presence of "Egyptian" objects and practices in Southern Levantine burials poses intriguing questions that this PhD research seeks to address. Specifically, the study focuses on socio-cultural aspects of cultural contact during the Late Bronze Age, aiming to explore the extent to which Levantine populations adopted funerary customs of Egyptian origin. The research will involve the analysis of Late Bronze Age cemeteries in both the Levant and Egypt, covering the period approximately from 1600 BC to 1200 BC.

The findings of this study will be contextualized within discussions of ethnicity in archaeology. While existing scholarship often interprets the appropriation of Egyptian elements in the Levant as an emulation of a "superior civilization," this research aims to demonstrate that such appropriation operated within more nuanced and locally specific contexts. By employing a multidisciplinary approach, this study seeks to shed light on the complexities of cultural interaction and exchange during the Late Bronze Age, challenging conventional interpretations and offering new insights into the dynamics of cross-cultural influences.