Posters for BE Symposium 2023

As part of the symposium, there will be several academic posters available. During the afternoon, there will be time for questions to be submitted to the authors.

The Eastern Door of Heaven is Open to You. Nut has Embraced You. She Whose Hair is Long, and Whose Breasts Hang Down”: the embracing arms and the Heaven’s Doors.

-Mennah Aly

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In the ancient Egyptian religious texts since the Old Kingdom, the sun god and the deceased are mentioned to have been embraced by mother goddesses to guarantee their rebirth after death. This idea appears in the concluding tableaux of the New Kingdom Netherworld Books which portray the solar deity elevated from the netherworld into the morning sky by pair of arms, while in tomb scenes and on the Third Intermediate Period funerary papyri and coffins, the sun disk is shown embraced by two pair of arms at its rising and setting. Despite being attributed to deities like Nut, Shu, Nun and Tatenen; in most of the attestations, the identity of the owner of the embracing arms is kept anonymous. In fact, the depiction of the arms embracing the solar deity are associated with his Perpetuum Mobile across the eastern and the western horizons of the sky, and thus also related to his passage through the Doors of Heaven that gives access to these two horizons. Given to their protective role and secretive nature, the Doors of Heaven were almost concealed rather than appearing as mere portals, while their existence was denoted to various themes, among which is the embracing arms. 

The research shows how the embracing arms are not only associated with the opening of the Doors of Heaven, but also substitute them in their role of separating between the different realms of the universe. Furthermore, the paper investigates the identity of the owners of these embracing arms, either deities or gatekeepers, and how through embracing the solar deity, they evoke the primeval moment of creation that entails his emergence from the Unified Darkness; a course repeated with every solar rising. 

The Widow’s Lament: Mourning women in ancient Egyptian funerary rituals.

– Ariadne Argyros

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Well-attested since the Old Kingdom, ancient Egyptian funerary rituals were performed on the body and soul of the dead to open the way for a second, eternal life in the hereafter. Previous scholarship shows that these rites contained a codified structure of roughly consistent verbal and gesticulatory behaviours that were expressed through stylized and repetitive performance. Supporting evidence for this argument is embodied by mourning women, a pair or group of lamenters who executed their roles for the dead perfectly to ensure the ritual’s success. Their typical violent, chaotic gestures and wailing laments served both protective and regenerative functions that granted these women enormous power to assist in the transition of the dead into a form of being that allowed them to endure forever.  

Past scholars have determined the most frequent gestures of raising the hands in front of the face, torn clothes, and falling to the ground in lamentation. However, certain gestures have been consistently overlooked or dismissed. For example, iconographic analyses of scratched cheeks and exposed breasts have been reduced to inconsequential by-products of grief or sanctioned depravity. The author’s initial research suggests that these acts subtly exemplified women’s dominant role in mourning. The “impurity” of nudity and blood actually may have served to visually draw attention to the fertile value of the female body as a way to underscore their revivifying function within this liminal space. By harnessing and channelling their actions and emotions correctly, these mourners helped maintain world order and imbued a sense of hope and security into what would otherwise have been a wholly dangerous and sorrowful affair. Their actions ensured that evil could be overcome and the deceased, now revivified, was properly equipped to journey into the afterlife as an ꜣḫ, a ‘blessed one’. 

Greek Archaeological Evidence in Egyptian Settlements Leading to the Ptolemaic Dynasty Rulership.

– Ana Belén Rumi Gutierrez

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Interrelations in the Ancient Mediterranean did not end after the invasions of the Sea Peoples. The discovery of Naukratis in 1884 by Petrie has shown that trade between Ancient Egypt and Greece continued to take place after the fall of the Mycenaean civilizations and before the arrival of Alexander the Great leading to the establishment of the Ptolemaic dynasty. However, this is not the only settlement that has proven to have hosted Greek inhabitants: the ancient cities of Thmuis, Antiphrae, Thonis-Heracleion, and Daphnae, among others, have done so too.  In this presentation the focus of attention will be the presence of Greek inhabitants before the arrival of the Ptolemies, demonstrating continued relationship, and how this could have influenced the acceptance of this dynasty into the pharaonic tradition. This paper will present different settlements with Greek archaeological evidence that dates back to the pre-Hellenistic times, concretely between the seventh and third centuries BCE By doing so, I will try to demonstrate that the Greek presence in Ancient Egypt took place well before the arrival of Alexander the Great and that such presence may have had a positive impact on the later acceptance of the Ptolemaic dynasty into the pharaonic tradition.

The Anasyrma Fertility Ritual in Ancient Egypt: From Hathor to Hermaphroditus.

-Valentina Alessia Beretta

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The anasyrma is a fertility ritual in which a person or a divinity lifts up their skirt to show the genitals. The  first Egyptian attestation is the Chester Beatty I papyrus: Hathor lifts up her robe in front of the god Ra to make  him laugh after he was offended by the god Baba. In Esna temple there is a sacred ritual linked to Hathor: on  the 29th day of Athyr, two women expose their genitals and breasts in front of a representation of the goddess to bless the Pharaoh and the land. Herodotus (Historiae, II, 59-61) describes the festival of the goddess Artemis (Bastet) in Bubasti. He reports that, during the journey made by boat on the river Nile to reach Bubasti, some women lifted their vestment to show their genitals in front of villages and fields to bless them with fertility. This ritual can also be performed to be blessed by a god: Diodorus Siculus (Biblioteca Historica I, 85) writes that women went in front of the Apis bull lifting their robes to be blessed by his fertility powers. There are  sixteen figurines depicting the god Hermaphroditus that were found in Egypt, all dating to the Graeco-Roman  period, eight of them show Hermaphroditus Anasyromenos. This god was believed to be the inventor of marriage and to be part of the sacred cycles of Aphrodite and Dionysus, associated in Egypt with Hathor, goddess of sexuality, and Osiris, in his aspect of god of fertility. Even if we consider anasyrma as an apotropaic ritual, in Egypt it has a strong link with fertility. In a time when having an abundance of resources was vital for the progress of the society and the survival of people, it was of great importance to assure a copious harvest  also through religious practices. 

The Function and Symbolism of Animals in Ancient Egyptian Tales.

-Hazem Farrag

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The environment in ancient Egypt played a profound role in shaping the personalities of its inhabitants. Growing up in this setting, the ancient Egyptians were surrounded by a diverse range of animal species that inhabited the Nile Valley and neighbouring deserts. These animals not only held practical significance in daily life, but also held religious importance and were associated with numerous deities. The presence of animals in ancient Egyptian tales reflects the great interest and reverence that the ancient Egyptians had for them. These tales feature a variety of domestic and wild animals, some of which play a central narrative role, while others are represented superstitiously.

This poster examines the environmental context of ancient Egyptian tales and seeks to gain a greater understanding of the ancient Egyptians’ perceptions of animals. Through a comprehensive analysis of tales from the Middle and New Kingdoms, this study illustrates the symbolic and psychological significance that different animals held for the ancient Egyptians. By examining the themes and settings throughout these tales, the study explores the use of animal metaphors and imagery and delves into the attitudes, symbolism, and characterization of these animals in the ancient Egyptian literary tradition.

The Role of HqAw: the exploitation of resources within centre-periphery relations during the Old Kingdom.

-Marina García López

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One of the key factors in the consolidation of the nascent Ancient Egyptian monarchy was the control of  the exploitation of available resources. In this vein, the Crown developed a strategical policy of exploitation of the Egyptian territory during the Old Kingdom. A centralized administration was initially able to pursue this policy, although it soon proved being insufficient. The collaboration and incorporation of local elites into administrative structures was then essential. This alliance took shape in  the foundation of royal estates called Hwwt, whose supervision was assigned to local authorities holding the title HqA Hwt.  

For most of the last century, the study of this collaboration was dominated by a biased institutional  approach. Any other aspects of Egyptian society seemed to be invisible or totally passive. As elements promoted by central administration, Hwwt and administrative structures were a main topic of research. The study of HqAw was meanwhile just a collateral interest. Fortunately, over the last decades, Egyptology has overcome this biased approach, and the agency of local authorities has re-emerged as a  prominent factor in the relation between the Crown and the provinces. Therefore, the goal of this poster is analysing the figure of HqAw, focusing on individuals rather than institutions. 

Based on the analysis of textual, prosopographic and iconographic sources, it will be demonstrated that HqAw existed as local leaders prior to its appearance in administrative sources. It will be also shown that HqAw were not always linked to Hwwt, albeit they were consistently related to the exploitation of resources. Thus, this poster aims to highlight the crucial role of HqAw as local leaders traditionally in charge of the actual exploitation of resources during the Old Kingdom and outline the development of their relations with the Egyptian administration throughout this period.

The Functional Conception of Female Figurines in the Domestic Spheres during the Ptolemaic and Roman Period.

-Khaled Ismail

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The Graeco-Roman female figurines were found in various contexts (funerary, sacred and domestic) across Egypt. This poster will look for the types of figurines that were excavated in the domestic sphere. The archaeological evidence proves that the types of these figurines are quite different to the figurines that were found in the other contexts. They are represented basically as nude women seated on a small chair or birth stool (?), washing their genitals or sometimes they are represented as naked women with open legs, holding a pot or vessel in their hands. This poster deals with some of the questions still open for discussion until now: what do these figurines represent? To which divinities they were related? What are the functions and conceptions of these figurines in the domestic sphere and where and how were they used? Are these figurines related to the rituals of pregnancy and motherhood in the houses? The aim is to show the results of an examination of contexts in which the figurines from public baths and homes were found. This poster will present some unique examples of figurines that were excavated in the Greco-Roman houses at Fayoum, and Herakleopolis, and also some examples of figurines that were recently excavated by the Polish-Egyptian mission in the Ptolemaic baths at Tell-Atrib in the Delta, analysing the find contexts and archaeological data in order to explore new aspects of these female figurines in the domestic sphere. Furthermore, patterns of their depositions will be compared with the previous studies to better understand their functions and the related ritual practices.

The Pottery from the Second Intermediate Period and New Kingdom from tomb QH33 of Qubbet el-Hawa.

-Dámaris López Muñoz

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In 2008, the University of Jaen started to work in tomb QH33, at the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa, located in Aswan, Egypt. This region was the border between Egypt and Nubia, and it played an important role due to its strategic position. Due to the large amount of material, a systematic analysis of the material culture in general is necessary, especially a study of the ceramics groups, ordered in historical periods. At Qubbet el-Hawa cemetery, pottery has not been deeply studied until now. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is studying the pottery found in tomb QH33 and dated to the Second Intermediate Period (1759-1539 BCE) as well as the New Kingdom (1539-1077 BCE). This pottery belonged to a phase of re-occupation of the hypogeum, because the tomb was built around two centuries before, between the reigns of Senwosret III and Amenemhat III, at the end of the Twelfth Dynasty (1939-1760 BCE). Preliminary results have indicated that most of the pottery from Second Intermediate Period was from the end Seventeenth Dynasty (c. 1600 BCE) and the New Kingdom pottery was from the early Eighteenth Dynasty, during the reigns of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III (c. 1479-1425 BCE). Consequently, there is a short transitional period between the two historical periods. From the ceramic analysis, it is possible to confirm the re-use of tomb QH33. The present study aspires to answer the questions of why the tomb was only in use during this short period and why was not re-used again until Late Period. Finally, results from the current study will show how the ceramic studies are precious resources to fix a chronological sequence as well as to reconstruct important historical events through its study.

Cloaked in Mystery: Cloaked figures as part of ancient Egyptian tomb models.

-Sam Powell

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This paper explores a common motif within these figures; a wooden figure swathed in a white cloak, often appearing as a ‘block’ with the head emerging from the top. This has been interpreted in a number of ways with regards to the identity of the individual within the scene depending on the type of model on which it appears.  When these figures are dispersed from their original context and present in isolation, however, their intended symbolism becomes more difficult to unravel.

Using case studies and examples from the author’s ongoing PhD research at over forty UK institutions, the existing theories on the identities of these mysterious individuals will be discussed and evaluated, with the intention of uncloaking the secrets of these unusual figures within ancient Egyptian tomb models.

Drowned Gifts of the Nile: archaeological research in Lower Nubia beneath the Aswan High Dam.

-Ilaria Sieli

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The aim of this contribution is to outline the history of Egyptological research in Lower Nubia from the last century beyond, focusing mostly on how it has been conducted, due to the periodical threat of flooding the region underwent since the Aswan Dam was built between 1898 and 1902. Excavations in Lower Nubia have most frequently been conceived in the framework of salvage archaeology, which has surely led to consistent results and to quantum increases in our knowledge of cultural history of the region; meanwhile, enormous lacunae remain, due to the difficulties encountered by archaeologists in struggling with water rising, lack of time and the urgency to develop a wholly new scientific method. The current state of research suffers both from a general lack of sufficient data and the impossibility to reprise the excavations in most Lower Nubia sites, which are currently submerged by the water of Lake Nasser. This contribution approaches the topic from two different standpoints: first, a brief history of research in Lower Nubia will be highlighted; then, perspectives and hypothesis concerning the future will be illustrated. The opening section analyses the First Archaeological Survey in Lower Nubia, led by Reisner and Firth in 1907-1911, its innovative approach and results. The following section outlines the Second Archaeological Survey, directed by Emery and Kirwan between 1929 and 1934, focusing on similarities and differences in comparison with the previous one. The third section approaches the great UNESCO Campaign, promoted due to the building of the new Aswan Dam, which involved more than forty archaeological expeditions worldwide. The conclusions will outline achievements and weaknesses of the three main surveys and hypothesis on future research in Lower Nubia will be suggested.