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.
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.
Choosing the Location for a Royal Tomb, the Workmen’s Techniques and Tools, Units of Measurement, KV Huts, and Workplaces
The construction of a royal tomb was a complex enterprise. Once the vizier and other high-ranking officials had chosen a suitable location, the workmen used mallets and chisels to hew the tomb out of the rock. While the rough cutting of the tomb was taking place, the walls were being rendered and reliefs and polychrome decorations applied. Each tomb was larger than its predecessor: was longer and had wider corridors, more pillars, and more chambers. As the tomb grew longer, lamps were required to provide light, and the twice-daily distribution of wicks suggests that the work was organized in two shifts. At times the workmen lived in simple huts, usually near the tomb under construction. As suggested by the presence of vessels, hearths, stelae, and head rests, the huts were used by the workmen to cook their food worship deities, and to sleep.
This article discusses Christianity in Egypt from its origins down to the martyrdoms under Diocletian in the early fourth century. It looks at three key areas: the establishment of the church community and hierarchy in Alexandria, the manifestation of Christianity in the chora, and the Roman government's response to Christianity. The period closes with the development of the monastic tradition, one of Egypt's major contributions to Christianity and to Western culture.
This article begins with an overview of the history of excavations and exploration at Tuna el-Gebel. It then discusses the site of Tuna el-Gebel; the necropolis of Tuna el-Gebel before Roman rule; the development of the urban structure in the early Roman period; the tombs of the second and third centuries
Donald M. Bailey
This article looks at the evidence for classical architecture in stone in the urban centres of Middle Egypt, including one new Greek city and three metropoleis. These are Antinoopolis, the city of the deified Bithynian youth Antinoos, which is known mainly from the illustrations and descriptions compiled by Edmé Jomard and the Napoleonic expedition, the Description de l'Égypte; Hermopolis Magna, the great city of the god Hermes (Egyptian Thoth), known from surviving structures and the evidence of the Napoleonic expedition; Oxyrhynchus, the city of the sacred mormyrus fish, which is known from sketches by Vivant Denon, leader of the Napoleonic expedition, from Jomard's description, and from a few extant buildings or photographs of ruins; and Herakleopolis Magna, the great city of the Greek god Herakles, which is known from two surviving groups of buildings, Jomard's notes, and some modern plans.
Collisions, Abandonments, Alterations, Tomb Commencements/Pits, and Other Features in the Valley of the Kings
This chapter deals with most of the non-tomb features such as graffiti, tomb-pits, shrines and tomb commencements, that still or once existed in the Valley of the Kings. It is an update on information compiled since the first survey of the Valley by Elizabeth Thomas in 1969, and includes data from recent and ongoing excavations. A short discussion on the ancient reference to the “five Walls” in the Valley of the Kings and one on embalming pits is also included. Special reference is made to KV 55, where the author carried out a clearance operation in the late 1990’s.