An iconic image of the 18th Dynasty is in Deir el-Bahri temple where a tableau depicts the trading expedition of the female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, to Punt. In Ancient Egypt, the waxing of power invariably fuelled a limitless appetite for the resources to sustain that power and the exotic materials required for its commemoration. The conquests of Thutmose I and III gave Egypt military pre-eminence in the Middle East, and by securing control of Nubia’s goldmines reinforced economic dominance. The limited maritime technology of the time meant use of the Red Sea relied on prevailing winds. In addition, canals bypassing the Nile’s first cataract required continuous maintenance, so Western Desert caravan routes remained critical trade arteries and Ahmose I imposed centralized control over them. From ports in the Nile delta, Egypt sat at the apex of lucrative trade routes to Phoenicia, Crete, Cyprus and onwards to Mycenaean Greece and the kingdoms of Asia Minor.
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