This presentation will use ‘composite’ images to explore relationships between three categories of Egyptian material from the second millennium BCE: pre-Amarna copies of the Amduat; curved apotropaic ‘wands’; and the Book of Two Ways. The conclusions gained may shed light on the history of Egyptian visual representation more generally.
It was common in Egypt to combine multiple images, or parts of images, to form new ones with independent meanings. Such ‘composite’ images are often studied with an aim towards elucidating these meanings; little research has focused on the significance of their forms and distribution. In this presentation, I discuss how composite images are used in each of the three aforementioned categories. I first compare the content, objectives and themes of each category, as well as the types of composite images they use. I then attempt to explain similarities and differences between their iconographies, by considering their cultural and institutional contexts of use. How independent were these categories? What might this tell us about the Egyptian artistic tradition? I focus on images incorporating ophidian elements, since the cultural significance of snakes in Egypt is relatively well-understood, and ophidian images are wide-ranging in both time and contexts of use.This event is part of the Work in Progress seminar series