Editors: Gianluca Miniaci (University of Pisa), Juan Carlos Moreno Garcia (CNRS, Paris), Anna Stevens (University of Cambridge & Monash University)
Ancient Egypt offers a rich foundation from which to reconstruct life in the past, with its remarkable range of written, visual and material sources and its international connections. Yet the study of ancient Egypt is too often isolated from other disciplines and Egyptology is under-represented in broader discourse on human experience in the past and present. Ancient Egypt in Contextwill address this issue, offering authoritative but accessible overviews of foundational and emerging topics in the study of ancient Egypt, along with comparative analyses, translated into a language comprehensible to non-specialists. Its authors will take a step back and connect ancient Egypt to the world around, bringing ancient Egypt to the attention of the broader humanities community and leading Egyptology in new directions.
Ancient Egypt in Context will:
Provide concise yet authoritative overviews of fundamental themes in the study of ancient Egypt, alongside original, innovative insights into frontier topics.
Advocate a more fluid combination of archaeology, history, anthropology and other disciplines.
Generate models, theories and datasets that can be integrated into broader archaeological and historical discourse.
Demonstrate the potential of multi-perspective research, including through comparative approaches, whether geographical, temporal or disciplinary.
Provide a dynamic reference resource for students, researchers and specialists, not only of Egyptology but also of other social sciences.
Ancient Egypt in Context will:
The imperative for the series is to use terminology and approaches that can easily be understood by non-Egyptologists, without over-simplifying issues. Topics will fall under one (or more) of three main categories:
Major themes – Multi-perspective overviews of major topics that seek to mark current understanding, position the topic in broad interdisciplinary perspective and shape future research.
Exploring topics – Data-driven and micro-history approaches that provide in depth examinations of key and emerging topics, providing lynchpins for both cross-disciplinary analysis and the furthering of Egyptological research.
Global views – Comparative research that considers interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives in greater depth and promotes reflection on the current position and future direction of Egyptology.
Egyptian Archaeology and the Twenty-First Century Museum
(Ancient Egypt in Context 10)
This Element addresses the cultural production of ancient Egypt in the museum as a mixture of multiple pasts and presents that cohere around collections; their artefacts, documentation, storage, research, and display. Its four sections examine how ideas about the past are formed by museum assemblages: how their histories of acquisition and documentation shape interpretation, the range of materials that comprise them, the influence of their geographical framing, and the moments of remaking that might be possible. Throughout, the importance of critical approaches to interpretation is underscored, reasserting the museum as a site of active research and experiment, rather than only exhibitionary product or communicative media. It argues for a multi-directional approach to museum work that seeks to reveal the inter-relations of collection histories and which has implications not just for museum representation and documentation, but also for archaeological practice more broadly.
Ancient Egypt in its African Context. Economic Networks, Social and Cultural Interactions
(Ancient Egypt in Context 9)
This Element is aimed at discussing the relations between Egypt and its African neighbours. In the first section, the history of studies, the different kind of sources available on the issue, and a short outline of the environmental setting is provided. In the second section the relations between Egypt and its African neighbours from the late Prehistory to Late Antique times are summarized. In the third section the different kinds of interactions are described, as well as their effects on the lives of individuals and groups, and the related cultural dynamics, such as selection, adoption, entanglement and identity building. Finally, the possible future perspective of research on the issue is outlined, both in terms of methods, strategies, themes and specific topics, and of regions and sites whose exploration promises to provide a crucial contribution to the study of the relations between Egypt and Africa.
Gary M. Feinman, Juan Carlos Moreno García
Power and Regions in Ancient States. An Egyptian and Mesoamerican Perspective
(Ancient Egypt in Context 8)
The aim of the Element is to provide a comprehensive comparison of the basic organization of power in Mesoamerica and Egypt. How power emerged and was exercised, how it reproduced itself, how social units (from households to cities) became integrated into political formation and how these articulations of power expanded and collapsed over time. The resilience of particular areas (Oaxaca, Middle Egypt), to the point that they preserved a highly distinctive cultural personality when they were included or not within states, may provide a useful guideline about the basics of integration, negotiation and autonomy in the organization of political formations.
The Archaeology of Egyptian Non-Royal Burial Customs in New Kingdom Egypt and Its Empire
(Ancient Egypt in Context 7)
This Element provides a new evaluation of burial customs in New Kingdom Egypt, from about 1550 to 1077 BC, with an emphasis on burials of the wider population. It also covers the regions then under Egyptian control: the Southern Levant and the area of Nubia as far as the Fourth Cataract. The inclusion of foreign countries provides insights not only into the interaction between the centre of the empire and its conquered regions, but also concerning what is typically Egyptian and to what extent the conquered regions were culturally influenced. It can be shown that burials in Lower Nubia closely follow those in Egypt. In the southern Levant, by contrast, cemeteries of the period often yield numerous Egyptian objects, but burial customs in general do not follow those in Egypt.
Judith Bunbury, Reim Rowe
The Nile. Mobility and Management
(Ancient Egypt in Context 6)
The ancient Egyptian kingdoms, at their greatest extent, stretched more than 2000 kilometres along the Nile and passed through diverse habitats. In the north, the Nile traversed the Mediterranean coast and the Delta, while further south a thread of cultivation along the Nile Valley passed through the vast desert of the Sahara. As global climate and landscapes changed and evolved, the habitable parts of the kingdoms shifted. Modern studies suggest that episodes of desertification and greening swept across Egypt over periods of 1000 years. Rather than isolated events, the changes in Egypt are presented in context, often as responses to global occurrences, characterised by a constant shift of events, so although broadly historic, this narrative follows a series of habitats as they change and evolve through time.
Leslie Anne Warden
Ceramic Perspectives on Ancient Egyptian Society
(Ancient Egypt in Context 5)
This Element demonstrates how ceramics, a dataset that is more typically identified with chronology than social analysis, can forward the study of Egyptian society writ large. This Element argues that the sheer mass of ceramic material indicates the importance of pottery to Egyptian life. Ceramics form a crucial dataset with which Egyptology must critically engage, and which necessitate working with the Egyptian past using a more fluid theoretical toolkit. This Element will demonstrate how ceramics may be employed in social analyses through a focus on four broad areas of inquiry: regionalism; ties between province and state, elite and non-elite; domestic life; and the relationship of political change to social change. While the case studies largely come from the Old through Middle Kingdoms, the methods and questions may be applied to any period of Egyptian history.
Kathlyn M. Cooney
Coffin Commerce.How a Funerary Materiality Formed Ancient Egypt
(Ancient Egypt in Context 4)
This discussion will be centered on one ubiquitous and rather simple Egyptian object type – the wooden container for the human corpse. We will focus on the entire ‘lifespan’ of the coffin – how they were created, who bought them, how they were used in funerary rituals, where they were placed in a given tomb, and how they might have been used again for another dead person. Using evidence from Deir el Medina, we will move through time from the initial agreement between the craftsman and the seller, to the construction of the object by a carpenter, to the plastering and painting of the coffin by a draftsman, to the sale of the object, to its ritual use in funerary activities, to its deposit in a burial chamber, and, briefly, to its possible reuse.
John Coleman Darnel
Egypt and the Desert
(Ancient Egypt in Context 3)
Deserts, the Red Land, bracket the narrow strip of alluvial Black Land that borders the Nile. Networks of desert roads ascended to the high desert from the Nile Valley, providing access to the mineral wealth and Red Sea ports of the Eastern Desert, the oasis depressions and trade networks of the Western Desert. A historical perspective from the Predynastic through the Roman Periods highlights how developments in the Nile Valley altered the Egyptian administration and exploitation of the deserts. For the ancient Egyptians, the deserts were a living landscape, and at numerous points along the desert roads, the ancient Egyptians employed rock art and rock inscriptions to create and mark places. Such sites provide considerable evidence for the origin of writing in northeast Africa, the religious significance of the desert and expressions of personal piety, and the development of the early alphabet.
Ethnic Identities in the Land of the Pharaohs. Past and Present Approaches in Egyptology
(Ancient Egypt in Context 2)
Ethnic Identities in the Land of the Pharaohs deals with ancient Egyptian concept of collective identity, various groups which inhabited the Egyptian Nile Valley and different approaches to ethnic identity in the last two hundred years of Egyptology. The aim is to present the dynamic processes of ethnogenesis of the inhabitants of the land of the pharaohs, and to place various approaches to ethnic identity in their broader scholarly and historical context. The dominant approach to ethnic identity in ancient Egypt is still based on culture historical method. This and other theoretically better framed approaches (e.g. instrumentalist approach, habitus, postcolonial approach, ethnogenesis, intersectionality) are discussed using numerous case studies from the 3rd millennium to the 1st century BC. Finally, this Element deals with recent impact of third science revolution on archaeological research on ethnic identity in ancient Egypt.
Seeing Perfection. Ancient Egyptian Images beyond Representation
(Ancient Egypt in Context 1)
This Element offers a new approach to ancient Egyptian images informed by interdisciplinary work in archaeology, anthropology, and art history. Sidestepping traditional perspectives on Egyptian art, the Element focuses squarely on the ontological status of the image in ancient thought and experience. To accomplish this, section 2 takes up a number of central Egyptian terms for images, showing that a close examination of their etymology and usage can help resolve long-standing question on Egyptian imaging practices. Section 3 discusses ancient Egyptian experiences of materials and manufacturing processes, while section 4 categorizes and discusses the different purposes and functions for which images were created. The Element as a whole thus offers a concise introduction to ancient Egyptian imaging practices for an interdisciplinary readership, while at the same introducing new ways of thinking about familiar material for the Egyptological reader.
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