Jennifer Thum

  • Fellowship Dates 2016-2017
  • Research Topic Turning the Landscape into a Stela: The Mechanics of Egyptian Royal Rock Inscriptions
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate Brown University
The ancient Egyptian view of the natural world is well-understood: the landscape, whose elements were deified and personified, was viewed as an influential force on daily life. Yet, this view has never been reconciled with the possibility that monuments carved into the Egyptian landscape might have had a special function. Although kings customarily used built monuments and stelae as markers of order, there are some cases where the messages we would expect to see on conventional royal monuments were instead inscribed directly onto “living rock”- outcrops that are still in situ. These royal rock inscriptions were executed with the same formalities as freestanding stelae - including their shape - but they appear to have been commissioned at a more restricted set of locations, mainly at the margins of Egyptian territory. Using theories from landscape archaeology and linguistics, non-invasive documentation methods and GIS modeling to explore the circumstances that led Egyptian kings to use rock inscriptions as a monumental strategy, this research explores the mechanics of royal rock inscriptions - how they “worked” - in foreign landscapes as well as inside Egypt.

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