Monday, May 28, 2018

Etiquette and Roots of Diplomacy


The “Amarna Letters” (or tablets) are the clay tablet-form letters of the pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, with some letters from Tutankhamen’s reign. The correspondents were mostly Great Kings of Syria-Palestine, as well as Egyptian vassals, but letters also came from the Egyptian rulers. 

The Amarna correspondence is a set of mostly diplomatic letters, on topics like exchanges of gifts, disputes, requests for resources, and marriage. From internal evidence, the earliest possible date for this correspondence is the final decade of the reign of Amenhotep III, who ruled from 1388 to 1351 BC (or 1391 to 1353 BC), possibly as early as this King's 30th regnal year; the latest date any of these letters were written is the desertion of the city of Amarna, commonly believed to have happened in the second year of the reign of Tutankhamun later in the same century in 1332 BC.

Why do diplomats give each other gifts? At the U.S. Department of State , diplomatic gifts come in all shapes and sizes from woven straw baskets to precious gems. In ancient civilizations on every continent, dignitaries and leaders exchanged gifts to welcome, honor and cultivate beneficial diplomatic relationships. Many of the gifts shown here (and in the U.S. Diplomacy Center’s collection) embody symbols of esteem and welcome for our Secretaries of State while traveling abroad or receiving visitors. Gift exchanges take place in the ceremonial climate of toasts, banquets, speeches and formal greetings. A gift of state often captures the essence of a nation, chosen for its ability to exhibit pride in a unique culture and people. Gifts of state may showcase traditions of fine or folk arts, crafts or craftsmanship. They may display wealth in precious stones or metals, fine textiles and apparel. Gifts may draw from a rich heritage of antiques and antiquities or an expressive storehouse of cultural icons. This way the gift becomes more than a mere formality, but a reminder of the special alliance between the gift giver and receiver.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia