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Ramesside Royal Women’s Tombs, The Book Of The Dead, And The Deir El-Medina Iconographic Tradition

  • 31 Mar 2022
  • 7:00 PM
  • Virtual

Ramesside Royal Women’s Tombs, The Book Of The Dead, And The Deir El-Medina Iconographic Tradition

AIA Society: Atlanta
Lecturer: Heather Lee McCarthy

The early Ramesside period was a time of tremendous innovation that impacted religion, art, and the ideology of kingship and queenship. The funerary realm was one of the settings for this upsurge of new ideas, and sweeping changes were brought to bear on royal and non-royal tombs alike. Perhaps the most dramatic changes concerned the burials of Ramesside queens. From the start of Dynasty 19, these royal wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters were interred in a separate, discrete necropolis specifically re-purposed for royal women, called Ta Set Neferu (“The Place of the Beautiful Ones”), and now known as the Valley of the Queens. These royal women’s tombs were larger and more elaborately decorated than those of their 18th Dynasty counterparts. In the early 19th Dynasty, new decorative schemes were developed for Ramesside royal women’s tombs, including the creation of new Book of the Dead vignettes and new arrangements of pre-existing vignettes. The design of these decorative schemes impacted the iconographic tradition of the Deir el-Medina villagers who cut and decorated these tombs.

The purpose of this lecture is to present an overview of my work in progress investigating the role of Ramesside royal women’s tombs as loci of religious, iconographic, and artistic innovation and also tracing the paths of artistic transmission from queens’ tombs to Deir el-Medina private tombs. I will discuss my observations and findings concerning the usage of Book of the Dead scenes gleaned from my examination and photographic documentation of selected Deir el-Medina tombs.


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