Jacqueline M. Huwyler

Of Culture-Contact and Identities: The Introduction of Anat into Egypt, Sinai, and Nubia (ca. 1985-1108 BCE)

Beautiful but incredibly violent and deadly, the Syro-Palestinian goddess Anat is referenced indirectly in sources from Egypt dating to as early as the 12th dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. However, it is not until the New Kingdom that a surge in interactions between individuals from Egypt, Nubia, Sinai, Syria, Palestine, and the wider Near East resulted in the increased (though still widely limited) usage of Anat in the archaeological and textual sources of Egypt and its borders. This study is meant to shed light on the phenomenon of Anat’s arrival in Egypt and the experiences of the individuals and communities involved in the process. Thus, the study fulfils 3 overarching goals: 1) To re-examine all attestations of Anat’s appearance within Egypt, Nubia, and Sinai known by the author to-date (as recorded in the accompanying catalogue), 2) To investigate some potential explanations for Anat’s ability to find a limited foothold within specific communities in Egypt, and 3) To better understand how individuals living in Middle to New Kingdom Egypt may have understood and shaped their own identities and existence in relation to their knowledge of and interactions with the outside world. This includes individuals born in Egypt as well as individuals of “foreign” origin and/or heritage, such as Canaanites, Amorites, and other Near Eastern (and especially Syrian and Palestinian) peoples.

In this study, Anat is emphasized as a carrier of cultural knowledge, memory, heritage, and traditions from various communities of the ancient Near East into Egypt, Nubia, and Sinai. The study thus attempts to highlight the actual human agents who aided in the dispersal of knowledge and objects associated with the goddess. In connection to this, the study includes a discussion of various anthropological theories of culture-contact, as well as an evaluation of which of these theories can be best applied to the case of Anat in Egypt. It sparks questions such as how individuals living in Egypt during this period may have perceived and approached religion, as well as the largely modern concepts of “Egyptian” and “foreign.” Overall, the study attempts to lend a voice to the Syro-Palestinian cultural “other,” and to the ancient and strong connection between migration and identities.