Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Iconography Of Family Members In Egypt’s Elite Tombs Of The Old Kingdom

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

David P. Silverman


This study collects, categorizes, and interprets the representations and associated texts of family members of the tomb owner that appeared in elite tombs of the Old Kingdom in the Memphite and provincial necropolis from the Fourth to the Sixth Dynasties. It provides a detailed investigation into the kinship designations, titles, and presentational specifics of family members, and examines the frequency of occurrences of kinship designations and titles. The typology introduced in this study classifies the stances of family members into seven major types, each with several sub-types. The analysis of the appearances of each sub-type makes it possible to trace the developments and innovations of the depiction of family members during the Old Kingdom and further discuss the familial ideology expressed by these stances.
This study also introduces the concept “family group” to describe the situation when more than one family members appear in a single scene or on the false door. A comprehensive analysis of all the family groups in the Old Kingdom private tombs demonstrates how the Egyptians conceptualized relationships within a familial framework, such as the differentiation of gender and generation, and the indication of age.
A particular issue is the meaning of the term sn-Dt “brother of the funerary estate.” By analyzing all the existing examples, this study points out that the establishment of the sn-Dt is a strategy to extend funerary responsibilities to non-family members and remote relatives, who would then provide offerings for the deceased as the family members did. The offerings that family members usually carry is the stpt-offerings, a specific type of offerings consist of forelegs, processed birds, and other food. This study also compares the representation of family members in the chapel and other sources concerning making offerings by taking them as different language games. This comparison reveals the nature of the depiction of presenting offerings.

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