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Ancient States and Pharaonic Egypt: An Agenda for Future Research

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Comparative history on ancient empires has seen a flourishing renewal in recent years. Many studies are devoted either to the study of a particular aspect (or aspects) in many societies of the past, or to the analysis of selected characteristics present in two ancient states, usually China and Rome. However, pre-Ptolemaic Egypt is conspicuously absent in such discussions despite the considerable wealth of Pharaonic sources and archaeological evidence. Therefore, several paths for prospective comparative research are proposed, from the organization of agriculture and productive activities in general to the ways in which ancient states promoted and “captured” flows of wealth through trade, imperialism, and taxation; from the reproduction of power and authority in the long run to the integration of different actors with their own (and often diverging) interests into a single political entity. The final aim is to contribute to a theory of ancient states where long-lived monarchies like ancient China and Pharaonic Egypt could play a leading role.

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