Continuity, Discontinuity and Change. Reflections on Egyptian Temples in the Ptolemaic and Roman Era.
Univerzita Karlova, Filozofická fakulta, Český egyptologický ústav
Faculty / Institute
Date of defense
16. 1. 2020
KeywordsKeywords not found
Any society, antique or modern, is anything but constant and unchanging; rather it is continuously subjected to internal and external influences and stimuli that result in processes of modification, assimilation and transformation. One obvious means in which to observe and probe the dynamics and interaction of continuity, discontinuity and change within an ancient society, such as Egypt, is by focusing on cult and religion as a crucial manner by which a community identifies and formulates itself. The individual, as well as communities or the society as a whole, ultimately expresses its (religious) identity in both tangible and perceptible forms, such as architecture, text and image. The studies gathered in the present volume consist of fifteen previously published articles accompanied by an introductory commentary. All studies focus on various aspects of the material culture of traditional temples erected during Ptolemaic and Roman times in Egypt by combining evidence from architecture, text and image in order to better understand the cult practices performed within these sacred structures and the underlying religious concepts and notions. Concomitantly, I have attempted to place the results of these inquiries into a wider historical context. By bringing into play the material culture from especially, but not exclusively the New Kingdom and the first millennium B.C., one is able to perceive useful analogies. This not only provides an opportunity to better understand ritual activities in Egyptian temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman era, but also to identify developments that took place over time in temple architecture and the text and images applied to its walls, representing changes and alterations in religious and cultic traditions. As a result, one is able to observe a continuously ongoing dynamic process, amenable to refinement, modification and even drastic alteration by the (gradual) application of new understandings, perceptions and/or (re-)interpretations and its continuous confrontation with age-old traditions. The fifteen chapters that make up this volume have been divided into four major sections. The first three sections cover in general the Egyptian temple as the setting for the performance of a large variety of ritual activities. The first section includes case studies focusing on the historical background of temple development in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt and detailed research into alterations and modifications in temple architecture and plausible reasons behind these changes. The second section combines a series of inquiries related to the role the Nile played in both ritually cleansing the temple as well as being responsible for provisioning these sacred monuments with its gifts. The third section focuses on the actual performance of rituals on a daily basis and/or during seasonal or annual festivals once the temple is prepared and furnished. The final section explores how the continuously changing political situation over the course of the first millennium B.C. - with a foreign power more often than not occupying the pharaonic throne - found its reflection on temple walls and the changes it brought to the age-old concept of pharaonic kingship.