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Living betwixt and between: a study of the title 'elder of the porch' (sms.w h)y.t) and its holders - a prosopographical approach

posted on 28.03.2022, 23:18 by Milena Kooyman
Titles are one of the primary sources about ancient Egyptian society and government providing invaluable information on how each sphere was organised. The title 'elder of the portal' (sms.w h)y.t) is an enigmatic title belonging to the administration of the Egyptian palace and occurs in sources throughout Egyptian history. Yet very little prior research on this office has been undertaken. As a result, the meaning of this title and the function and status of its holders has remained unresolved. This study begins with the cataloguing of all individuals who bore the title 'elder of the portal' from the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the end of the New kingdom in a prosopography. The corpus of 176 title-holders, their titularies, social networks, and monuments, is assessed within the framework of each historical period. The common characteristics and attributes of holders of the title 'elder of the portal' are identified to determine their role and social position in the state and in society. Any other sources referring to the 'elder of the portal' are also incorporated into the analysis. The orthography and lexicography of the elements 'elder' and 'portal' is completed to ascertain their meaning, which greatly impacts how the title is to be interpreted. Finally, the Egyptian palace as well as the concept of 'liminality' is explored to situate the 'elder of the portal' in the physical space of the king's residence and within the socio-political networks of the royal court. The primary finding of this investigation is that the 'elder of the portal' was an official active in a specific liminal zone in the palace. Title-holders were courtiers at the royal court physically and socially close to the king and were frequently involved in affairs of the state. The 'elder of the portal' was a functional regular palace appointment from the Old Kingdom to the end of the Second Intermediate Period. A shift from a palace to a temple context occurred during the New Kingdom, which altered the nature of the title and the function of its holders in society.


Table of Contents

Volume I. Chapter One. The study of 'titles' - preliminaries Chapter Two. The orthography and lexicography of the title, sms.w h)y.t Chapter Three. The ancient Egyptian palace and the concept of liminality Chapter Four. The sms.w h)y.t in the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period Chapter Five. The sms.w h)y.t in the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period Chapter Six. The sms.w h)y.t in the New Kingdom Chapter Seven. The 'Elder of the Porch' - a synthesis -- Volume II. Prosopography.


Bibliography: pages 306-324 of volume I Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Boyo Ockinga

Additional Supervisor 1

Susanne Binder


Copyright Milena Kooyman 2017. Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright






1 online resource (2 volumes)

Former Identifiers

mq:71165 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1271543