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Object friezes on coffins of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom – knowledge transfer of ancient Egyptian rituals in text-image constellations in the knowledge households of ancient Egyptian regional governors

Subproject by Dr. Andrea Kilian

The sub-project investigates knowledge households of regional governors using the example of object friezes on coffins from the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom. It aims to visualize networks, modes of movement and interactions between individual households and different regions. The study focuses on the pictorial realization and tradition of ancient Egyptian rituals on the basis of the utensils required to perform these rituals, which are depicted in the object friezes and represent an important part of the coffin decoration during this period.

The objects under study are arranged in different layouts and compositions, and the role these layouts play in conveying knowledge of the rituals on which the friezes are based will be investigated. By analyzing the composition of the friezes regarding the transfer process of the elements and the ritual knowledge contained therein, the reasons, complexity and direction of the knowledge transfer will be worked out. The focus, thereby, is on the knowledge households of regional governors and their clientele as well as on an interregional comparison in order to distinguish synchronic and diachronic developments.

Over time, more and more objects were included into the object friezes, some of which are also documented archaeologically. The friezes can be combined with inscriptions that specify the depicted objects or incorporate them into sacrificial formulas. This text-image connection represents a further point of investigation, which is supplemented by the archaeologically documented objects. This serves to gain insight into ancient Egyptian rituals and the multimodal relationships between text, image and object against the background of the transfer of knowledge in the knowledge households of the regional governors of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom.