This article discusses the Ptolemaic legacy and Egyptian independence; the annexation of Egypt; and the first Roman prefects in Egypt. In contrast to earlier changes of ruler, the annexation of Egypt by Octavian represents a particularly lasting break in the country's history. Octavian was quickly able to stabilize Roman authority in the newly created province. As in the other provinces of the empire, a new, well-designed, and effective administration was speedily introduced. It was headed by the prefect, the direct representative of the emperor. To secure his rule, Octavian-Augustus also sought engagement with the priests, the elite of the country. This is evident in the numerous temples that were built, particularly in areas of strategic and economic importance.
Roman Egypt is the only part of the ancient world where documentary evidence for the age composition of the general population has survived. Pertinent information is provided by extant census returns from the first three centuries of Roman rule. Gathered every fourteen years, these documents list the members of individual households with their names, familial status, and ages. Knowledge of the age distribution enables us to track mortality rates and infer average life expectancy, which is a critical measure of overall well-being. This article discusses mortality patterns, causes of death, and disease and physical well-being.
Marjorie S. Venit
Distinguished in the first century
The vast range of animals found in ancient Egypt not only contributed to creating its language and religion, but they were also a mainstay of its economy, and played key roles in daily life, ranging from providers of food to companionship. They are also key indicators in our understanding of the changing environment. The study of Egyptian fauna can thus elucidate many aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. This article outlines the sources available for the study of animals in Egypt, such as artistic images, texts, and physical remains. It provides an overview of the history of Egyptian archaeozoology, outlines current methods, and goes on to look at the future of this discipline within Egyptology.
This chapter sketches the nature of evidence to be gained from careful analysis of the ceramic remains in ancient Egypt, and the ways to achieve it, explaining some of the advances made in recent years. Pottery provides the most ubiquitous archaeological source material derived from ancient Egypt. Early archaeologists only tended to show interest in pottery when it was intact and/or of aesthetically pleasing shape or decoration, but this important source material has turned into primary evidence when dating a site. It provides information on the history of use of a site as well as on socio-economic issues, such as importations from other sites or even abroad, and glimpses into possible functions of sites.
In addition to providing food, companionship, and raw materials for clothing, furniture, tools, and ornaments, animals also played a key role in religious practices in ancient Egypt. Apart from serving as sacrifices, each god had one or more animal as a totem. Certain specially marked exemplars of these species were revered as manifestations of that god that enjoyed all the privileges of being a deity during their lifetime and which were mummified and buried with pomp upon their death. Other animals, which did not bear the distinguishing marks, were mummified and offered to the gods, transmitting the prayers of devotees directly to their divinities. These number in the millions and were a significant feature of Egyptian religious belief and self-identity in the later periods of Egyptian history.
This article reviews archaeological studies in the Nile Delta. It discusses problems of archaeological work in the Delta; previous work in the Delta; current research and survey; survey and recording; and excavation. The Nilotic landscape of Egypt was a fantasy place in the Roman imagination. For the people who lived there, the archaeological remains suggest a vibrant society with new towns springing up to manage the agricultural lands. The old Pharaonic temple cities were reinvigorated as metropoleis, with all of the trappings of Roman life from a monetized economic system to marble statuary brought from Italy, and with industrial areas manufacturing goods for local consumers and visitors.
This essay assesses the body of archaeological research connected to the New Kingdom settlement site of Amarna (ancient Akhetaten), the short-lived capital of Egypt founded by king Akhenaten around 1347 BC as the cult centre for the solar god the Aten. Amarna, by far the largest exposure of pharaonic settlement to survive from Egypt, is unsurpassed as a case site for the study of ancient Egyptian urbanism and daily life. This essay provides an overview of the ancient city, evaluates past and ongoing excavations at the site, and summarizes the archaeological discourse on the city as a physical, functioning and experienced space.
Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom
This chapter discusses the evolution of scholarly interest in Christian antiquities in Egypt after 1900. The archaeology of early Christianity developed much later than the field of Egyptology and initially focused only upon the clearing of monumental churches. Growing interest in Byzantine art and archaeology in the mid-1920s fostered greater support for excavations of expressly Christian settlements, which were primarily monastic communities. The wealth of archaeological evidence preserved in Egypt’s arid climate, such as documentary evidence (ostraca and papyri), textiles, manuscripts, and small finds such as items made of leather, reeds, ivory, and wood, helped foster a greater appreciation for Egypt’s history after the age of the pharaohs.
This article discusses the archaeology of the Fayum region, covering land reclamation projects; discoveries and archaeological excavations; layout of Graeco-Roman settlements; and houses of the Roman period. The Fayum was developed in Hellenistic and Roman times to maximize agricultural output, which also led to the foundation and development of several settlements. Although many sites were known by name following the discovery of papyri in the late nineteenth century, early explorations were not well documented or published by the excavators, and considerable damage was wrought by illicit digging and sebakhin activity. Fortunately, a number of ongoing projects, combining archaeology, papyrology, and archival research, are constantly improving our knowledge of Fayum settlements, and in particular the interrelationship between the temple, its dromos, and the residential areas of the towns and villages.
The pyramid complexes of kings Khufu, Khafra, and Menkaura of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom period with their surrounding cemeteries at the Giza Necropolis contribute to our understanding of the development of a royal necropolis. Although there is evidence for pre-Fourth Dynasty settlement and burial, Khufu’s pyramid complex of the early Fourth Dynasty included a decorative program with reliefs and presumably statuary; while the decoration of the mastabas ranges from slab stelae and reserve heads to fully decorated chapels. Khafra’s and Menkaura’s pyramid complexes of the mid to late Fourth Dynasty probably focused more on statuary reflecting an evolving ideology of kingship. The quarrying of local limestone provided the necessary core blocks for the pyramids and mastabas, creating areas for the Sphinx and rock-cut tombs of the late Fourth Dynasty into the Fifth. The Heit el-Ghurab settlement (HeG), a center of production, and the tombs of the pyramid builders also contribute to our understanding of the necropolis’ functioning and its hierarchical structure. Giza continued to be used for burial through the Late Period.
Aspects of the Relationships between the Community of Sheikh Abd al-Qurna and Ancient Egyptian Monuments
Andrew Bednarski and Gemma Tully
Epigraphers and archaeologists working in Egypt must navigate a host of complex relationships both on and off site. This chapter explores the multifaceted nature of local Egyptian peoples’ relationships with nearby monuments through the lens of a single case study: the site of Sheikh Abd al-Qurna and its local population, the Qurnawi. Egyptologists have not traditionally sought to incorporate formally the stories and histories of local populations in their studies of pharaonic sites. An increasing blend of social awareness and the desire for social action on the part of both foreign professionals and local activists, however, is pushing Egyptologists to re-evaluate their practices, which, in turn, is moving the discipline in new and positive directions.
Peter Der Manuelian
This chapter reviews some of the historical developments in scientific illustration that influenced our modern-day approach to Egyptological epigraphy and discusses the idea of objectivity in scientific illustration. It then offers a brief assessment of the advantages of digital epigraphy over more traditional methods. A discussion follows regarding working on-screen with drawing layers, creating sun and shadow lines digitally, and reviewing the reasons to choose either raster images (bitmaps) or vectors—in the context of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator—to create facsimile line drawings of Egyptian scenes and inscriptions. It briefly summarizes the development of new devices that allow for digital epigraphy in the field and then takes the discussion one step further into 3D modeling and other forms of archaeological visualization, including the Giza Project at Harvard University. Concluding remarks touch on the sustainability of digital workflows, data management plans, and the challenges of keeping pace with new technologies.
A search for audiences in ancient Egypt involves an assessment of the concept of cultural communications, accepted communicative practices, understanding of space, and other elements. Traces of many communicative acts and performances in antiquity will remain elusive, yet it is possible to recognize dedicated communicative spaces as well as strategies that involved ancient audiences. Edifices and texts targeted their specific audiences, for instance in a royal monumental discourse or a private commemorative discourse included within Egyptian autobiographies. Ancient works of art also often bear marks by a second or a third hand that was engaged in inspecting, changing, copying, as well as destroying them, as well as by visitors, exemplified by graffiti. Apart from the emic audiences, there are also etic audiences, standing outside the Egyptian culture, but constituting a distinct link in the chain of cultural memory.
In the famous projects of ancient Egyptian architecture, sunlight had always a special role. An expert use of light and shadows helped in creating halls filled with sacredness in many temples; but most of all the Sun was the visible face of Ra, the Sun God. As a consequence, religious and funerary architectural projects were connected with the sun rays on special days of the year through astronomical alignments. The chapter focuses on a few key examples—the Akhet hierophanies at Giza and Amarna, and the winter solstice alignment at Karnak—showing the potentialities of modern archaeoastronomy in understanding key aspects of ancient Egyptian monuments and religion.
The First Nile Cataract, an outcrop of the granite bedrock, interrupts the course of the Nile and creates many small islands between Philae and Syene, ancient Swnw ('Trade'), modern Aswan. The First Cataract was a natural, ethnic, and symbolic frontier between Egypt and Nubia. From the early third millennium onwards, Egypt repeatedly invaded Nubia with the intention of fixing her southern frontier at the Second Cataract, i.e., the southern end of the Lower Nubian Nile Valley. The possession of Lower Nubia secured unlimited control over the river trade between Egypt and Upper Nubia. It also meant the ownership of the resources of the adjacent desert areas — above all the goldmines of the Eastern Desert — as well as control over the desert roads connecting Egypt with the interior of Africa. Egypt conquered Lower Nubia first around 2800
Over the past twenty years, the topic of agriculture and husbandry has been of rising interest among historians and archaeologists of the ancient Mediterranean, and notably of Roman Egypt. Our knowledge of Roman Egypt's rural life relies heavily on documentary papyri. Their abundance and the wealth of information they contain allow unparalleled insights into the socio-economic life of a Roman province. This article discusses three main issues: agro-fiscal management policies, land use and food production, and religious landscapes. The agro-fiscal management of Roman Egypt was oriented towards the maximization of its agrarian yields and, hence, fiscal revenues. In this regard, particular attention was dedicated to the promotion of agriculturally marginal land, as Mendesian agrarian terminology shows. Overall, the province's agricultural life was mainly dedicated to wheat cultivation.
The earliest known New Kingdom royal canopic is the chest of Hatshepsut, followed by that of Thutmose I, made for him by Thutmose III. These chests were made of quartzite, matching their sarcophagi, and were intended to contain four canopic jars. However, a wholly new design appeared under Amenhotep II, made of calcite and with its “jars” integral with the box itself, which was adorned with the protective goddesses around its corners. This form of chest continued until at least the latter part of the Nineteenth Dynasty, but by the reign of Ramesses IV separate jars were once again employed, under Ramesses VII placed in cuttings at the sides of the sarcophagus. No further canopic royal equipment is known until the Twenty-first Dynasty.
Mohamed Sherif Ali
The hybrid script is a specific peculiarity of quarry inscriptions and graffiti. Many texts of this category have either a mixture of hieroglyphic and hieratic signs or the shapes of the signs themselves appear to be a sort of “middle form” between the both scripts. This feature, to which the name “hybrid script” was given, occurred since the Old Kingdom, but it became more frequently used in the Middle Kingdom, specifically during the Twelfth Dynasty. In the Middle Kingdom, such inscriptions make up a high percentage of the total number of texts at many sites. This percentage, however, is considerably lower in the New Kingdom. The relationship of the hybrid script to cursive hieroglyphs is significant and could be explained through analyzing the different ways of writings from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom.
J. Brett McClain
The Chicago House Method is a set of procedures for making facsimile copies of Egyptian monumental decoration. Since its creation by James Henry Breasted in 1924, the Epigraphic Survey has employed this Method for the recording and publication of the ancient records found on the walls of Egyptian monuments. The documentation process uses large-format photographs from which facsimile line drawings are made and rigorously cross-checked against the original monument, utilizing the diverse skills of a team of experts to ensure the highest possible degree of accuracy. The method is flexible when necessitated by field conditions or various types of inscribed material and can integrate new tools and techniques to address a variety of epigraphic tasks more effectively, but the core principles—a photographic basis and multiple checks of the copy by a series of specialists who examine the original—are observed at all times.