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Birmingham Study Day: Gods and Mortals: The function of religion in Ancient Egypt

Event Info

Host: EES
Type: Education - Lecture

Time and Place

Start Time: Saturday, 29th November 2014, 10:00 am
End Time: Saturday, 29th November 2014, 5:00 pm
Location: Lecture Room 2, The Arts Building, The University of Birmingham
Street:
City/Town: Birmingham, B15 2TT
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Contact Details

Email: contact@ees.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)20 7242 1880
Link: www.birminghamegyptology.co.uk

Description

THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED

Herodotus is often quoted as describing the ancient Egyptians as being 'religious to excess, far beyond any other race of men'. But this tells us little about the nature of that religion or the rituals involved. Nor does it tell us about what the Egyptians did for their gods, or what they thought the gods did for them. Therefore this study day will offer some insight into the impact of religious beliefs and practices upon the various structures within ancient Egyptian society, and upon the daily lives of the people themselves.

09:30 Registration
10:15 Opening remarks
10:30 Prof. Susanne Bickel: Connecting with the divine: aspects of the daily temple ritual
11:30 Refreshments
12:00 Dr Michela Luiselli: "I am calling you, Mut, mistress of the sky, who hears my prayers!" Personal religious beliefs and practices related to Mut
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Dr Tony Leahy: How men became gods: intermediaries and interaction with the divine in Egypt in the first millennium BC
15:00 Refreshments
15:30 Dr Martin Bommas: "He who comes too late is punished by death" - Why time keeping was so important when meeting the Ancient Egyptian gods of the underworld
16:30 Closing remarks
17:00 End of Study Day

Connecting with the divine: aspects of the daily temple ritual
Prof. Susanne Bickel

One of the functions of Ancient Egyptian religion was to reassure people, that supernatural powers warranted the world's stability and fertility. Divine intervention and providence was perceived as a process of permanent interaction between gods and mortals, which implied a sophisticated daily ritual performed simultaneously in every temple of the country. The presentation will focus on specific moments of this ritual designed to induce the mystery of a deity's presence on earth. In order to convince a deity to come down to the temple and the statue where offerings were presented, the priests had to assume the role of a god.

"I am calling you, Mut, mistress of the sky, who hears my prayers!" Personal religious beliefs and practices related to Mut
Dr Michela Luiselli

The so-called crossword hymn to Mut (Stela BM 194), a manifesto of Mut's theology, states that "all the rechyt-people worship her, when (her) form is seen" (across l. 8) and that "everyone is in praise of her ceaselessly, while making festive their houses" (across l. 12). In this way the crossword hymn describes Mut's impact on common people. While it is not unusual for New Kingdom hymns to describe and emphasize the universal praise of a deity, the strong evidence for popular worship of several deities during this period proves that these statements were not simply cliches of written sources for the elite. Against this background, the question that will lead the present paper is whether or not we can reconstruct a popular cult for Mut, the wife of Amun-Re and the mother of Khonsu and the king, and if yes, what was the belief behind the cult. In other words, the present paper will investigate the topic of personal piety in ancient Egypt within the framework of the cult of Mut.

How men became gods: intermediaries and interaction with the divine in Egypt in the first millennium BC
Dr Tony Leahy

Imhotep and Amenhotep, son of Hapu, are the best known examples of men whose role as intermediaries between the Egyptians and their deities led on to their incorporation into the pantheon of gods. This paper looks at less well-known examples, who may have played similar roles but who are often attested only for a short time or in a limited geographical area. Their existence can nonetheless shed valuable light on the different ways in which such cults might have come into being.

"He who comes too late is punished by death" - Why time keeping was so important when meeting the Ancient Egyptian gods of the underworld
Dr Martin Bommas

By taking written and archaeological sources into consideration, the funerary procession in the New Kingdom can be reconstructed in (almost) all of its aspects. This paper will outline the main aspects of funerary processions and address the time frame that a dead individual had to adhere to during an ideal funeral in order to arrive in the netherworld safely. We will see why those who could afford these costly measures spent one entire day travelling from the East bank of the Nile to the burial chamber before their passage came to an end at the burial shaft.

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