Foreigners at Karnak: utilising the "other" for the study of Egyptian identity from the Second Intermediate Period until the reign of Thutmose III (c. 1803 - 1425 BC)
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 18:53 by Laura Peirce
Research to date on representations of foreign peoples in ancient Egypt has focused on the smiting and battle scenes that dominate temple walls. However, these studies have often omitted the accompanying captions that are found throughout sacred spaces and are arguably, upon closer investigation, more prevalent. This thesis aims to address this issue through a quantitative and qualitative study of all references to foreigners at the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak dating from the Second Intermediate Period to the end of the reign of Thutmose III (1803-1425 BC). A corpus of 136 sources was compiled, drawn from a range of text types including artistic representations, textual sources, and symbols. This thesis argues that Karnak, as a lieu de mémoire, played an essential role in disseminating and stabilising a sense of cultural identity. In order to demonstrate this, the research focuses on one facet of the concretion of cultural memory: comparison and contrast between those who belong and those who do not. By selecting representations of foreign peoples, this research is able to show that ideas of Egyptian identity can be elucidated from representations of the "other". A second objective is an investigation into the placement of references to foreigners within the architectural space of the temple to determine if the walls of Karnak were capable of disseminating notions of Egyptian identity to a broader population. Through the creation and analysis of spatial distribution maps, this study can reveal that the references to foreigners are architectonically organised according to the flow of the movement of people throughout the space. This thesis is able to test earlier notions of the spatial distribution of references to foreigners at Egyptian temples together with raising and discussing questions regarding the audiences that had the potential to engage with these documents.