Certificate of Completion
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The Rise of the Theban Necropolis
4 lectures delivered over 2 afternoons. Sunday 4th & 11th February 2024
2-5pm UK times.
We love to see you for the live lectures, but if you have to miss one, don't worry, you can of course catch up (or watch again) at your leisure via the recordings. You will have access to the recorded lectures for a whole month after the last live lecture. Recordings will be available until 18th March.
Today the West Bank of Thebes is best known for lavish burials in the Valley of the Kings, but the mountains of Thebes had been an important resting place for both royals and private individuals before this time. Join us over a set of 4 lectures as we explore the rise of the Theban necropolis.
Lecture 1: Theban necropolis during the Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period
Although nothing is known about the city of Thebes in the Old Kingdom, finds from the west bank clearly indicate that it was most likely the seat of local administration. Tombs from this period have so far been discovered in two areas of the Theban necropolis – at el-Tarif, the northernmost patch of the necropolis, and at Khokha, a small hill flanking the North Asasif valley to the south in the heart of this sacred space. The necropolis also developed in a similar shape during the First Intermediate Period, although there was a clear increase in the rank of local officials, who in Egyptological literature used to be included in Dynasty 11. But the early phases of the Theban necropolis are probably not just tombs. Arguably, one of the area’s most important centres of worship – the shrine of Hathor at Deir el-Bahri – had already been established by this time. Although this has not yet been confirmed by archaeological finds, there are many indications to support this supposition.
Lecture 2: Ritual landscape of the Theban necropolis during the Middle Kingdom
When the Theban throne passed to Mentuhotep II, there was a marked development of the Theban necropolis, both as a burial ground and as a sacred space. After the conquest of the North, the founder of the Middle Kingdom not only established the capital of Egypt at Thebes, but initiated the development of the cults of Amun-Ra, Hathor and Montu on the west bank of the Nile. But the mortuary complex of Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahri is not the only temple erected in the Middle Kingdom on the site. The location of further sacred buildings dedicated to one of the next rulers of the period and to deities allow us to suggest that already in the Middle Kingdom the course of sacred axes connecting the most important buildings of Thebes began to be delineated or perhaps even established.
Lecture 3: Middle Kingdom burial customs in Thebes
At the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, a continuation of the tradition initiated at the end of the 6th Dynasty can be seen in funerary customs. However, a number of new elements emerged during this period, the key one being changes in tomb architecture. The latter was very strongly linked to the social position of the deceased, which in turn conditioned the space in the necropolis in which he could be buried. Therefore, by combining these elements, it is possible to establish the mortuary landscape of the Theban necropolis and to draw some conclusions about the circumstances of its management.
Lecture 4: Two styles of wall decoration during the reign of Mentuhotep II
The key political event reflected in the play was the reunification of Egypt under Mentuhotep II. Although it is not known exactly when this event took place, clear changes can be observed in the decoration of the royal temple at Deir el-Bahri and the private tombs, the result of a gradual transition from the local Theban style to the ancient Memphite style.
At the end of our discussion of the origins of the Theban necropolis, we will talk about the history of research in the area, pointing out the most important discoveries and studies.
Dr Patryk Chudzik
Dr Patryk Chudzik is an Assistant Professor at the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw. He studied Prehistory, as well as Oriental and Classical Archaeology at the universities in Poznań and Wrocław. He received his PhD on the topography and architecture of the Theban necropolis in the Middle Kingdom (2017). He is the director of the Polish-Egyptian archaeological and conservation expedition to Deir el-Bahri and the co-director of the Polish Archaeological Expedition to North Asasif.
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