To show and to designate: Attitudes towards representing craftsmanship and material culture in Middle Kingdom elite tombs

Claus Jurman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Middle Kingdom elite tombs are known to feature a substantial number of scenes showing the activities of craftsmen and their products. While these scenes have been collected and occasionally commented upon in the past, they have hardly ever been studied making full use of the available spectrum of information, i.e., taking into account the pictorial as well as the textual levels of representation. In order to remedy this dissatisfying situation a specific part of the research project From Object to Icon – funded by the Austrian Science Fund and hosted by the Institute for Egyptology at the University of Vienna – is devoted to investigating the complex relationship between image and text in these scenes. Building upon the results and the infrastructure established
by the forerunner project Meketre, a special database has been set up in order
to collect, classify and analyse all designations of craftsmen, craft activities, tools and products contained in the tomb decoration. The present paper is meant to highlight the problems and potential gains of such an approach by presenting a case study of the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hassan. The questions raised comprise: Are there any discernible rules governing the application of labels/captions in burial assemblages in general, and in figurative wall decoration in particular? How does the information provided by the captions relate to the pictorial content? What is the relation of these scenes and their captions to other categories of contemporaneous funerary equipment (e.g., coffins with their frises d’objets, funerary models, deposited implements, etc.) and to the social structure of Middle Bronze Age Egypt at large?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe arts of making in ancient Egypt
Subtitle of host publicationVoices, images, and objects of material producers2000–1550 BC
EditorsGianluca Miniaci, Juan Carlos Moreno García, Stephen Quirke, Andréas Stauder
PublisherSidestone Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-8890-525-4
ISBN (Print)978-90-8890-523-0, 978-90-8890-524-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventVoices, images, and artefacts of ancient craftsmen/women: Encountering the material producers of Middle Bronze Age Egypt (2000–1500 BC) - École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, France
Duration: 23 Jun 201624 Jun 2016


ConferenceVoices, images, and artefacts of ancient craftsmen/women


  • Egyptology
  • Art history
  • craftsmanship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology


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