Macquarie University
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New perspectives for dating Egyptian false doors and funerary stelae of the First Intermediate Period

posted on 2022-03-28, 20:08 authored by Melanie Pitkin
The First Intermediate Period is the modern name used by scholars to describe the intervening period between the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Poorly defined in absolute chronological terms, the First Intermediate Period is typically dismissed as a period of disunity and decline given it was the first time in Egyptian history when there was a collapse in central kingship and a shift in administration from the Memphite capital to the provinces. In order to help cast new light on the First Intermediate Period, therefore, this study focuses on the dating of 612 Egyptian false doors and funerary stelae from the reigns of King Pepy II to Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II. It does this through the application of five architectural, iconographic and palaeographic dating criteria, in the context of other material culture, to show how it might be possible to establish a dating typology – one which can serve as a new chronological benchmark for dating other objects and events of the Period. The thesis is arranged into two Volumes: Volume One presents the purpose of the study, defines the key terms, discusses the research problems and methodology and holistically assesses the corpus of material in terms of its frequency and distribution. It also critically appraises the existing literature and provides a clear historical overview. This is followed by the main dating analysis whereby each of thefive dating criteria are discussed in detail, including: (1) the hybrid false door-stelae; (2) the wedjat-eyes motif; (3) the ‘killing of the glyphs’ (including the mutilation of the viper sign and the phonetic writing of Anubis); (4) the owner holding a bow and sheaf of arrows and, (5) the writing of the epithet the ‘revered one’. Volume Two presents the complete corpus of First Intermediate Period false doors and stelae employed in the study, as well as some further appendices and select coloured plates. Two main outcomes can be concluded from the study: 1. That a relative dating typology can be established for particular groupings of First Intermediate Period false doors and stelae based on some of the dating criteria applied here and; 2. The application of the abovementioned criteria can reveal new ways of understanding and interpreting the cultural, religious, social and political landscapes of the First Intermediate Period, in particular the Theban-Herakleopolitan wars.


Table of Contents

Volume 1, Part 1, Studying First Intermediate Period false doors and stelae -- Introduction -- Previous scholarship -- Survey of the First Intermediate Period -- Part 2, Dating the material -- Dating First Intermediate Period false doors and stelae -- Hybrid false door-stelae -- Wedjat-eyes -- 'Killing of the glyphs' -- Owner holding a bow and arrows -- Writing of the 'revered one' -- Summary and conclusions -- Bibliography -- Volume 2, Appendices and plates.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 226-268

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

Naguib Kanawati


Copyright Melanie Louise Pitkin 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xxvi, 651 pages)

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