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Sailing to Jbeil: Egypt, Lebanon and the Bronze Age Timber Trade by Dr. Anna-Latifa Mourad-Cizek
March 15 2024, 02:00:00
Around 3,800 years ago, the Egyptian Pharaoh Senwosret III sent an expedition of sailors to the ancient harbor of Jbeil, or Byblos. Their mission was to retrieve timber. This was not the first time that the Egyptians had sailed to Byblos, nor would it be the last. Instead, mounting evidence from Egypt, Lebanon and elsewhere points to a transformative network of exchange between Egyptian and Levantine communities from the Third to the Second Millennium BCE. This network grew in complexity during periods of heightened connectivity, and endured through periods of state collapse. It offered the Egyptians, and others, the continued access to the precious conifer woods of today’s Lebanon that were highly sought after by the elites of the region. Drawing on both archaeological and historical material, this lecture explores why these woods were prized and how their exchange was sustained across political and cultural divides from the late Third to Second Millennium BCE. It sheds light on the collaborative efforts and roles of various individuals and groups, to consider the lasting legacy of the thriving Bronze Age timber trade.