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Working Title: Ancient Egyptian Coffins as Communicative Media for Religious Visual Strategies. An Analysis of the Lower and Middle Egyptian Coffins of the Late Period

PhD student: Katharina Stövesand
Supervision:  Prof. Dr. Françoise Labrique, Dr. John H. Taylor

The PhD project studies the local and regional traditions of the decorative programmes of Late Period wooden coffins. It focuses on coffins from Lower and Middle Egypt, which have not been the subject of an in-depth study yet. Two main areas can be distinguished: the Memphite necropoleis and an area of several cemeteries close to the Fayum Oasis in Middle Egypt. The pictorial and textual decorations of coffins from these regions are compared to those of coffins from Upper Egypt, namely from Thebes and Akhmim.
The analysis therefore explores the regional differences in coffin production. It furthermore aims to trace funerary workshops and to reconstruct the dynamics of the distribution and development of local and regional patterns of decoration. The identification of these patterns may allow the attribution of unprovenanced coffins to certain regions or even cemeteries – an important tool in the identification of coffins from illicit sources.
The theoretical framework is provided by Visual Culture Studies, whose ideas have rarely been applied to images from ancient Egypt. The complex relationship between death and image production in particular provides a meaningful backdrop to understand the religious language of the ancient Egyptian coffins’ decoration.