Addressing the imbalance between Egyptological and community interpretations of archaeological sites, the project aims to evaluate the personal, social, political, historical and economic agendas that continue to transform perceptions of archaeological sites and contemporary communal identities. Focused on the highly contested World Heritage listed landscape of the Theban Necropolis, modern day al-Qurna, on the western bank of the Nile at Luxor, Dr Monica Hanna and I will address over 200 years of archaeological exploration and western travel. Through closely integrated tandem research, we will reveal how ancient heritage, academic knowledge and perceptions of temporally isolated “space” have been prioritised over the needs of living Egyptian communities and how, in turn, this academic output impacts upon the modern social landscape and its inhabitants.
The research is essential in presenting the “untold story of archaeology” and revealing how the past does not exist in isolation but is part of a continuum of history which gives meaning to archaeological sites in the same way that the sites give meaning to local communities, academics and tourists.
The project will consider three central subject areas: 1) the history of archaeological intervention and Egyptian settlement in the area, including ethnographic sources, archaeologists’ records, travel writing and media coverage, 2) social anthropological exploration of the role the archaeological sites and their individual components play in the formation of Qurnawi identities today, and 3) the analysis of the perceptions of archaeologists and tourists visiting and working in the Theban Necropolis on the relationship between Qurnawi residents and the archaeological landscape. The three areas of research will then be integrated in order to produce a more inclusive understanding of the meaning of the archaeological sites in and around al-Qurna to the diverse groups of contemporary stakeholders.
Kathryn E. Piquette was a Senior Fellow in 2011 within the research group Space & Collective Identities (E-CSG-V), working with Dr Cornelia Kleinitz on this theme from the perspective of scribal/artistic space. The title of her Topoi project is: Graphical Space and the Construction of Past Identities. This project explores script and image from the perspective of the material object — the physical space which precedes yet also informs textual expression and meaning. Focussing on early Egyptian evidence (3200–2700 BCE), study is directed to the material and technical features of compositional spaces in order to address questions of individual and collective scribal identity.
Currently she pursues “A Comparative Study of Scribal and Artistic Spaces in Early Egypt and the Ancient Near East: Integrating micro- and macro-scale analyses” as a COFOUND Fellow at the Dahlem Research School. A description of her project can be found here.
The project investigates the semantic structure and the diachronic change of Ancient Egyptian spatial terms and constructions from a typological perspective.
In the sub-project ‘The loss of spatial prepositions‘, Frank Kammerzell researches the omission as well as the erosion and loss of Egyptian prepositions and the subsequent syntactic reanalyses (3rd mill. BCE-2nd mill. CE).
In the sub-project ‘The semantic space of spatial prepositions‘, Daniel Werning is researching the space of simple prepositions on a semantic map of static spatial relations. He compares the use of spatial prepositions in Hieroglyphic Ancient Egyptian (3rd-1st mill. BCE; Fig. 1-a) with that in English (Fig. 1-b), German, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and – in cooperation with Dr. Ulrike Steinert – in Akkadian. For further information, see this feature.
In her PhD project in C-I-1, Eliese-Sophia Lincke studying spatial adverbs and the typological classification of motion events in Coptic (1st-2nd mill. CE), the last phase of the Egyptian language. Spatial adverbs in the Coptic material may be evidence of an atypical typological shift in Egyptian from the verb-framed pattern in former phases to the satellite-framed pattern.
Humboldt Fellow and former Topoi Junior Fellow Camilla Di Biase-Dyson is researching the use and diachronic change of spatio-temporal prepositions in Egyptian, i.e. of those prepositions simultaneously that have spatial as well as temporal meanings, from a functional and cognitive perspective.
Fig. 1: The semantic space of simple static prepositions in Hieroglyphic Ancient Egyptian (a) and English (b) (Daniel Werning)
This dissertation aims to describe and elucidate the nexus between the Egyptian administrative, religious and military elites of the New Kingdom (1550-1069 B.C.) and their territorial patterns. A special emphasis is laid 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 recently been introduced in Egyptology, it is still necessary to reasses the theoretical background of this concept and to adapt it for the dissertation and its pivotal question. A part of the dissertation includes 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’ is also required to understand the precise meaning of this idea. It is 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 the elite, 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 gouvernours – the mayors of the rural towns.
The specific character of their relation with their respective area will be 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 are also of importance.
This research will result in a reconstruction of the ‘operating range’ and the space-related mindset of this group of people. This is done by a detailed reassessment of the available and published data, consisting of the inscriptional and archaeological evidence they left in Egypt. In doing so, a clear picture of their territoriality emerges, whereby territoriality is understood as a fivefold semantic net of interrelations consisting of its archeological-geographical, praxeological, sociological, cognitive and ideological dimensions.
The conlusions 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.