Jacqueline M. Huwyler
(Re)Shaping Identities: Late Bronze Age “Internationalism” and the Selective Adoption of Near Eastern Deities in an Increasingly Multi-Cultural Egypt (working title)
This dissertation explores the Late Bronze Age (New Kingdom) surge of cultural contact between Egypt and its neighbors, and the resulting popularization of the Near Eastern goddesses Anat, Qadesh, and Astarte within Egypt. Specific emphasis is placed on the development and spread of the deities over time, and on the audience and agents of their transmission. Three main questions structure the dissertation: 1) how and why did the Near Eastern goddesses find a foothold in Egypt, 2) how did interactions with the Near Eastern cultural “other” impact LBA Egyptian presentations of their own (religious) identities?, and 3) how did Near Eastern peoples in LBA Egypt navigate their new world and shifting identities with respect to their homeland religion? This study is therefore unique in that its emphasis is on culture-contact and theories of transmission, rather than on a study of iconography. In doing so, theories of cultural habitus (P. Bourdieu), cultural translation, and liminal spaces, among others, are explored. This dissertation will also include the most complete database of evidence for each deity in Egypt to-date, considering objects and texts, as well as appearances in personal names. By examining this evidence in relation to that of “foreign” communities and peoples in Egypt, the story of these deities’ appearance in Egypt can be reconnected to the wider story of cultural sharing.