The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt's New Kingdom. By ELLEN FOWLES MORRIS. Probleme der Agyptologie, vol. 22. Leiden: BRILL, 2005. Pp. xvii + 891, illus. $299.
Ellen Morris's extremely lengthy and detailed study should be the basis for all subsequent research dealing with the New Kingdom's expansionistic policy abroad. The work encompasses an incredible amount of secondary source material: historical and archaeological studies, as well as often provocative but always interesting methodological analyses of imperialism, and of cultural and political interactions, which the author has consulted. Extremely useful to this reader were the charts and maps that Morris has incorporated into her study of garrisons, fortresses, and highways, all of which were strongly tied to the warfare requirements and the peaceful economic and political interconnections of the pharaohs.
Morris has divided her work chronologically rather than topologically. That is to say, the presentation moves step-by-step from the early Eighteenth Dynasty to the end of the imperial epoch in the Twentieth Dynasty. Within each section, however, the two main regions of Asia (Syria-Palestine, awarded first position) and Nubia (correctly placed in a secondary role) are separated. This is necessary, for as the author indicates, there were major differences between the native Egyptian outlook toward their southern neighbors and the northeastern ones. The great kingdoms and empires that Egypt faced in Western Asia could not be regarded in the same light as the Nubian principalities. Moreover, even the iconic and mimetic representations in the royal battle reliefs note this difference; the settled northerners are always granted a higher status on the plane of existence than the southerners.
Each chapter follows a standard and invariable outline: historical summary, overview of military bases, textual evidence, and archaeological evidence. Here I acknowledge the complexity of the data as well as the keenness of the author's insight. I particularly enjoyed and learned much from Morris's archaeological perspective. She ably links the architectural data (e.g., at Tell el Heboua, Sile, or Gaza) with the archaeological and shows just how dependent the Egyptians were upon establishing a firm policy at their limits. Morris places great emphasis upon the border policies of the New Kingdom pharaohs and what they reveal. By means of her analysis one can easily grasp the growing development of the Asiatic empire during the first half of the Eighteenth Dynasty. The chronological orientation of her argument allows the reader to understand with little difficulty the various types of fortresses that existed at this time. Indeed, the summary in chapter seven, which covers the various Egyptian terms employed, will perhaps be the most consulted portion of this lengthy study. While I would put some question marks by her interpretation (in italics) of mnnw (p. 814), this is mere carping.
Her approach is descriptive, as...