Hunting imagery at the dawn of Egyptian history: the building of an elite
Sebastián Francisco Maydana

Hunting as a visual motif is ubiquitous in the Predynastic iconographic record. Its appearance in cosmetic palettes, decorated pottery and rock art, is all the more puzzling when taking into account that the archaeofaunal record shows that wild animals were only marginally hunted and did not in fact play a considerable part in Naqadian diet. It is very likely then that hunting scenes were part of a more complex grammar of representations, and that they have a close connection to the socio-cultural processes affecting the Nile Valley, especially during the first half of the 4th millennium BC (Naqada I-IIc). This period witnessed some of the most important changes in Egyptian history, most notably the emergence of chiefdoms and with them a new type of communal leadership. In this communication I will present a number of rock art scenes, mainly from Wadi Abu Subeira in the Eastern Desert north of Aswan, and will argue that these images do not merely register fact, but rather serve as a key element in the construction of a symbolic narrative which accounts for the formation of a new elite in the Nile Valley. The creation of a visual identity was indeed an important factor of consolidation for the emerging ruling group, and continued to be throughout the rest of Egyptian history.

The Thebaid: From Temple to Church? Reconsidering the historiographical phenomenon of the abandon, destruction and Christianization of Egyptian pagan temples (ss. III-V AD)
Ariadna Guimerà Martínez

The story of religion in Late Roman Egypt was dominated by the triumph of Christianity at expense of pagan religion. Generally studied in binary terms, the decline of the old gods of Egypt had its own dynamic away from the orthodox Church. Indeed, there were material signs that all was not well with Egyptian paganism before Christians had achieved the religious control of the Empire and the Thebaid is an excellent example of that.

Since the middle of the third century, the hieroglyphic and Greek texts on the walls of temples show a very low quality of work. For thousands of years, pharaohs had recorded their involvement to the conservation and embellishment of temples as a sign of wealthy cultic activity. This legacy continued under the Roman Empire but at a speedily declining rate. At Deir el Medina there is nothing later than Domitian; at Philae of Caracalla; at Esna of Decius. So, it is difficult to not consider that the imperial support for decoration of Egyptian temples drop after Tiberius, shrank after Hadrian and fade away with Constantine.

This communication will give an overview of the sunset of institutional Egyptian and Graeco-Roman religion through the study of the pagan temples in the Thebaid and how this was related with the outset of the Coptic Church. Furthermore, through the historical analysis the abandonment, destruction and Christianization of pagan temples will be reconsidered, with special regard to new archaeological perspectives for its study.

Genuine or Fake? A comparative study of Petrie Museum’s ripple flaked knife UC16294
Ian Taylor

The predynastic ripple flaked flint knife with a carved ivory handle, UC16294, is currently on display in the Petrie Museum, University College London. It was thought by Petrie to fit between sequence dates SD60 to SD65, with Hendrickx’s reassessment of sequence date would place the knife’s manufacture between the Naqada IID2 and Naqada IIIA1 periods. However, museum records note that the knife was purchased at an unrecorded date in Egypt by Petrie which means it lacks any archaeological provenance that would confirm either its location in the timeline of Egypt or its place of discovery. The knife was first published in 1905 by Capart and later by Petrie in 1917 and 1920. Bearing in mind the lack of provenance of UC16294 coupled with the unusual form of the knife, the decoration of the handle and markings on the chert blade do raise questions regarding the authenticity of the artefact. The intention of this paper is to undertake a comparative study between it and other existing predynastic knives and knife handles with particular regard to the design and iconography to ascertain if the knife is a genuine artefact or is a fake manufactured to be sold as ‘genuine’ to a burgeoning market in Ancient Egyptian artefacts. A case of caveat emptor?

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