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The Question of Identity: Ethnicity, Language, Religion, and Gender

Before Islam:  Egypt

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Beni Hasan

Beni Hasan

This image of an Asiatic visitor to Egypt during the Middle Kingdom is part of a scene showing a number of Asiatics who seem to have come to trade with Egyptians. It is from the tomb of Khnumhotep, the Overseer of Eastern Foreign Lands, at Beni Hasan in Middle Egypt.

The dress, facial hair, and personal possessions of these Asiatics are distinct from those of the Egyptians shown in the same tomb. This individual is identified in the accompanying label as a “ruler of a foreign land.” This term is the source for the ethnic identifier “Hyksos” used for immigrants from Western Asia and specifically the Levant during the period between the Middle and New Kingdoms.

For an idealized representation of the four races of mankind, see the images from the Tomb of Seti I, which are on the Theban Mapping Web site listed in the Webliography.

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