Photo of Dr Silvia Zago

Dr Silvia Zago BA, MA, PhD

Lecturer in Egyptology Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology


Research Overview

My research focuses on ancient Egyptian religous texts (especially funerary texts) as well as on related magic and ritual practices. More specifically, I am interested in concepts of the otherworld and their evolution over time and in cosmological/astronomical notions. I also study cultural geography and how it shaped the conceptualisation and use of the (sacred) landscape in which the Egyptians lived.

Ancient Egyptian Concepts of the Afterlife

I am fascinated by the range and variety of notions and images, which the Egyptians devised to attempt to make sense of what awaited them in the next life. Be it a celestial domain in the sky and the outer stretches of the cosmos or a netherworld populated by terrifying beings, there are plenty of scenarios envisaged for the deceased in the other world. Some of this research will be published soon in the monograph A Journey through the Beyond – The Development of the Concept of Duat and Related Cosmological Notions in Egyptian Funerary Literature (Material and Visual Culture of Ancient Egypt 7), through Lockwood Press. Link to the Publisher's webpage

Ancient Egyptian Funerary Texts (language, content, iconograhy, meaning, uses), Magic, Ritual Practices

Ancient Egyptian funerary texts offer a fascinating range of information about not only afterlife beliefs and customs, but also the ritual and magic practices, which this people believed to be effective in this life and the next. Particularly interesting is to try and find connections between the textual evidence and the visual and material culture.

Geography and cultic topography (use of landscape for ritual activities)

Far from comprising only visible topographical features, landscapes are also shaped by the multifaceted ensemble of human experiences through space and time, and thus convey meanings that are embedded in the socio-cultural values typical of the civilizations, which originated and thrived in them. Therefore, landscapes are physical spaces as much as they are culturally defined – and culturally specific – entities, which both generate and are shaped by human perception and experiences. They are symbolic constructions, within which the various activities of a community acquire sense. The ancient Egyptians superimposed a quite complex net of symbolisms to the environment surrounding them. It is therefore only by integrating the understanding of both the material/visible and the immaterial/invisible/symbolic features of the real and imaginary landscapes that a more complete picture of the engagement of the ancient Egyptians with their environment can be achieved. This forms part of my ongoing research, which has brought me to explore several aspects of the ancient landscape, specifically those connected to the necropolis domain and its connection with the divine world.