An Egyptian Science and Its Codification: Oneiromancy from the New Kingdom to Late Antiquity

5:00pm - 7:00pm / Thursday 14th December 2017 / Venue: Seminar Room 10 Rendall Building
Type: Lecture / Category: Department
  • Suitable for: All are welcome.
  • Admission: Free admission
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We are glad to present a lecture by Luigi Prada (Visiting Associate Professor in Egyptology, University of Copenhagen, & Research Associate in Egyptology, University of Oxford) who will be presenting "An Egyptian Science and Its Codification: Oneiromancy from the New Kingdom to Late Antiquity".

Oneiromancy, or dream interpretation, is one of the divinatory arts with the longest history of attestation in ancient Egypt, from at least the Ramesside to the Roman Period. Regarded by the Egyptians as a science, this discipline is not only indirectly attested in official or daily-life documents, but also in specimens of the technical literature governing it: dream books. In these texts, thousands of dreams were described and interpreted as signs of events that were expected to befall the dreamer. Until recently, only a small number of dream books was available to scholars. Since 2010, increasing interest in divination has however led to the identification of additional specimens of dream books, significantly expanding the available corpus. With dream books known from the New Kingdom, the Late, and the Graeco-Roman Period, it is now possible to gauge both the continuity and the developments in the tradition of these manuals, including its twilight during Coptic Late Antiquity. Not only do these texts inform us about the theory and practice of oneiromancy, but they also offer material for the study of the contemporary society and psychology––for they include information on the way the ancient Egyptians categorized the world of dreams, as well as on the hopes and anxieties that they faced in their daily existence, and which are illustrated in the predictions interpreting each dream.

In order to foster discussion and questions from the audience, we have asked the speaker to recommend some preliminary readings to set up the research background for the talk.

- On the Ramesside dream book: . Szpakowska, ‘Dream Interpretation in the Ramesside Age’. In: M. Collier/S. Snape (eds., with the assistance of G. Criscenzo-Laycock/C. Price), Ramesside Studies in Honour of K.A. Kitchen, Bolton 2011: Rutherford Press: 509–517.
- On Late and Graeco-Roman (primarily demotic) dream books: L. Prada, ‘Classifying Dreams, Classifying the World: Ancient Egyptian Oneiromancy and Demotic Dream Books’. In: H. Abd El Gawad/N. Andrews/M. Correas-Amador/V. Tamorri/J. Taylor (eds.), Current Research in Egyptology 2011: Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Symposium Which Took Place at Durham University, United Kingdom March 2011, Oxford/Oakville 2012: Oxbow Books: 167–177.
- On Egyptian dream interpretation in Late Antiquity: Oneirology versus Oneiromancy in Early Christian Egypt: Contextualising P. Duke inv. 244 (= Duke Coptic MS. 25)’. In: P. Buzi/A. Camplani/F. Contardi (eds.), Coptic Society, Literature and Religion from Late Antiquity to Modern Times: Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies, Rome, September 17th–22nd, 2012 and Plenary Reports of the Ninth International Congress of Coptic Studies, Cairo, September 15th–19th, 2008 (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 247), vol. 2, Leuven/Paris/Bristol CT 2016: Peeters: 1221–1236.
[or contact vchauvet@liverpool.ac.uk for copy]