Economic issues are a rather neglected topic within Egyptology. This study attempts to highlight selected economic aspects for the first half of the second millennium BC. Economy is embedded in society but the societal community itself is embedded in its environments: on the one side a physical-organic environment, including the ecologic restrictions given by the habitat; and, on the other side, the cultural system. This study describes economy and its environments in the form of a mosaic. The mosaic metaphor is used as mosaic stones are potential parts of the picture and being single blocks intrinsically open to integration into other possible pictures. Mosaic stones use period data where possible. Other mosaic stones are built-up as models thus contributing to the mosaic. Several mosaic stones provide estimates e.g. in production and consumption. The mosaic should help us to see Middle Bronze Age Egypt as a living society. It will not come as a surprise that many facets have hypothetical character and that the mosaic remains therefore to a considerable part incomplete. There is a wide field for further studies to reduce the number of missing mosaic stones. The Heqanakht papyri are used as a case-study to combine the more general picture with concrete information concerning Heqanakht’s households with the aim to develop a picture of Heqanakht’s business, even if it remains fragmentary.
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Dr Roger Forshaw is an Honorary Research Associate at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, University of Manchester.
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