If one can’t beat an empire, one can at least attempt to subvert and outwit it at every turn. This talk will examine various strategies employed by Egypt’s vassals in the northern edges of its empire to turn the pharaonic government’s desire to rule on the cheap to their own advantage. Vassals who operated in mountainous areas and in frontier zones, such as those situated in ancient Lebanon, were difficult to discipline and therefore enjoyed ample opportunities to deceive imperial officials, to play competing empires off of one another, and to use the empire’s might to their own advantage. Indeed, such vassals could quite literally get away with murder!
Ellen Morris is an assistant professor in the Classics and Ancient Studies Department at Barnard College. She has excavated in Dakhleh Oasis, Abydos and Mendes and is currently affiliated with the newly initiated Turning Points Project, a collaborative multidisciplinary effort aimed at exploring the transition from the Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age in the Southern Levant. This lecture draws upon material from her newly published book Ancient Egyptian Imperialism. Her other scholarly interests include sacred sexuality and performance, retainer sacrifice and divine kingship, desert travel and “island theory”, as well as life in “interesting” times.