Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Art as Ritual Engagement in the Funerary Programme of Watetkhethor at Saqqara, c. 2345 BC

By Barbara O’Neill
book cover

Art as Ritual Engagement is examined through a case study of feminised funerary representation in the repertoire of Watetkhethor, an elite woman interred in the mastaba tomb of her spouse, Mereruka, at Saqqara, c.2345-2181 BCE. The focus is centred upon the functionality of a particular form of gendered imagery in a ritualised, funerary context. The spaces and images in which Watetkhethor is featured alone, or in support of her spouse, indicate something of an elite woman’s expectations of the afterlife at this particular time. Contemporaneous examples as detailed as Watetkhethor’s are rare, and her status may have permitted Watetkhethor’s personal involvement in designing the funerary programme. Her. The arrangements would have been ‘state-of-the-art’, meeting the requirements of a woman identified as the eldest daughter of King Teti, c. 2300-2181 BCE. However, to date, the assumptions of twentieth century anachronisms, attitudes and biases have all but dismissed the rich iconographical programme of specifically feminised arrangements within this shared tomb.

H 276 x W 203 mm

62 pages

24 figures

Published Aug 2023

Archaeopress Access Archaeology


Paperback: 9781803275536

Digital: 9781803275543

DOI 10.32028/9781803275536



Chapter 1: Introduction

Aims and Objectives

The role of visual culture in ancient Egypt

Contextualising the early 6th Dynasty: An Overview

Security and harsh men?

Archaeological Background: The Tomb of Mereruka

The Funerary Chambers of Watetkhethor

The Research Focus

Rationale: Why this study?

Contextualising terms: Art and Ritual

The Structure of the Study: Chapter Overview

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Early Perspectives

New Perspectives

Chapter 3: Methodology

Panofsky’s Iconological System

Malafouris’s Material Engagement Theory

Chapter 4: Art as Ritual Engagement

Watetkhethor as facilitator

Watetkhethor’s presence in Mereruka’s chambers

Watetkhethor and autonomous funerary cult

The Pillared Hall (B1)

The staircase in the chambers of Watetkhethor (B2)

The Serdab Room, B3, B4

The Burial Chapel, B5

Chapter 5: Study Synthesis

Looking forward: Art as Action, Art as Gendered

The limitations of this study

Directions for future research




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