The focus of the doctoral thesis is on the territoriality of the Egyptian Elites of New Kingdom Egypt (ca. 1550–1069 BC), which incorporates sociological, social-geographic, psychological and ethnological perspectives on space and knowledge.


In his dissertation Johannes Auenmüller describes and elucidates the nexus between the Egyptian administrative, religious and military elites of the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC) and their territorial patterns. A special emphasis lay on the territory this elite controlled and the topographical context of their records by which they inscribed themselves via different means into the natural, cultural and social environment.

As the term “territoriality” and the relating ideas have only recently been introduced in Egyptology, it was necessary to reassess the theoretical background of this concept and to adapt it for the dissertation and its pivotal question. A part of the dissertation constitutes a review of the most influential sociological, ethnological and social-geographical implications of this term to establish a firm basis to build upon with the Egyptian material. A thorough definition of the term “elite” was also required to understand the precise meaning of this idea. It was imperative to take up an emic perspective based on the inscriptional record of elite self-thematisation to overcome the relatively imprudent Egyptological usage of this term.

On a material basis, the dissertation focuses on some very particular Egyptian groups of elites, namely the Viziers – the head of the Egyptian administration, the Viceroys of Nubia – the administrators of the Nubian territory of New Kingdom Egypt, and the provincial governors – the mayors of the rural towns.

The specific character of their relation with their respective area was taken into account to describe the attachment between these elites and their individual social and geographic spheres. The dimensions and the distances which had to be covered by them were also of importance.

This dissertation project resulted in a reconstruction of the “operating range” and the space-related mindset of this group of people. This was done by a detailed reassessment of the available and published data, consisting of the inscriptional and archaeological evidence these elites left in Egypt. In doing so, a clear picture of their territoriality emerged, whereby territoriality is understood as a fivefold semantic net of interrelations consisting of archaeological-geographical, praxeological, sociological, cognitive and ideological dimensions.

The conclusions made are contrasted with other sections of the ancient Egyptian administration to compare the distributional pattern of the respective groups of people in order to show the differences in their spatial organisation, which also affected their social and ideological status.

The dissertation was successfully completed in 2013.