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In recent decades, study of the ancient Egyptian natural world and its classification has adopted innovative approaches involving new technologies of analysis and a multidisciplinary general view. This collection of papers focuses on one particularly important aspect of foreign trade: the importation of aromatic products. Contributors present the results of the latest researches into the origin and meaning of foreign aromatic products imported in Egypt from the south (Nubia, Punt, Arabia, Horn of Africa) from the beginning of the Dynastic period. The quest for aromata has been of a crucial importance in Egypt, since it was closely connected with economic, political, ideological, religious and mythic spheres. Through archaeological research, epigraphic analysis and iconographic investigations new evidence is explored supporting the most likely hypothesis about the sources of these raw materials. The study of related documents has revealed possible linguistic links between ancient Egyptian and other African ancient languages, and a strong link between aromata and the divine world through the creation of many Egyptian myths. The references to some specific aromatic products (ti-shepes, snetjer, antyw, hesayt) have been subject to careful lexicographic analysis, with special reference to Old Kingdom occurrences. Iconographic and field investigations documented here seek to better define the Egyptian way of representing the 'foreign' world and the value of its products in the spheres of Egyptian religiosity and rising Pharaonic ideology.
Ilaria Incordino is Research Fellow in Egyptology at the University of Naples "L'Orientale". Her mainain research interests are in the rise of pharaonic ideology and its symbols, cultural and commercial exchanges between Egypt and its neighbour countries, and pharaonic and Byzantine pottery analysis.
Pearce Paul Creasman is Associate Professor of Dendrochronology and Egyptian Archaeology and Director of the Egyptian Expedition at the University of Arizona. He is actively involved in several initiatives to apply scientific methods to long-standing problems in Egyptology, such as ancient climate change and chronology. His research primarily focuses on understanding ancient human and environmental interactions, especially as it relates to the use and acquisition of natural resources, and to maritime life in Egypt.