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Reconstructing destruction: Amarna Period erasures in tombs of the Theban Necropolis

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posted on 28.03.2022, 22:46 by Alice McClymont
The Amarna Period of ancient Egypt, more specifically the reign of Akhenaten, saw a number of unprecedented changes to the religious climate. One of the most exceptional occurrences was the widespread erasure of certain words and images from monuments throughout the land. Although this destruction has been associated with the Amarna Period since the start of the academic analysis of this time, the study of the erasures themselves has developed only slowly. Their interpretation has been hampered by, on the one hand, the subjectivity that accompanies many commentaries of Akhenaten and his reign, and, on the other, the lack of any systematic approach to the recording and publishing of erasures as artefacts. Because of its religio-political context, abundance of monuments, and prolific documentation, the Theban necropolis provides an ideal case study for a close examination of these erasures. This analysis begins with the cataloguing of all examples diagnostic of the Amarna Period erasure program within the private tombs of the necropolis. The resulting corpus of material is then assessed through two different lenses: content and context. Firstly, the erasures themselves are examined to establish what elements were proscribed and why. Secondly, the mechanics behind the destruction are discussed, with a consideration of the identity of the erasers, their interaction with the sacred space of the necropolis, and the positioning of the campaign within the temporal and ideological setting of the Amarna Period. The primary finding of this investigation is that there was extensive variation in what elements were erased, how, and where. This indicates that the erasers did not operate as a uniform body, as is often conveyed in the scholarship, but rather had differing beliefs, instructions, and capabilities, and perhaps even visited the necropolis in different stages. As an underlying conclusion, it is suggested that a more consistent and objective approach to the recording and discussion of erasures by scholars is needed in order for their potential to be fully realised.


Alternative Title

Amarna Period erasures in the Theban Necropolis

Table of Contents

Volume 1: 1. Introduction -- 2. Commentary -- 3. Non-targeted tombs -- 4. The hidden one: the erasure of Amun -- 5. In his following: the erasure of Mut and other gods -- 6. Divine plurality: the erasure of nṯr.w and psḏ.t -- 7. Form or function?: the erasure of the officiant in the panther skin garment -- 8. Space: Amarna Period erasures within the context of the Theban Necropolis -- 9. Time: the erasure campaign with the chronology of the Amarna Period -- 10. Agency: the identity, competency, and beliefs of the erasers -- 11. Impact: ideological implications and consequences for the erasure campaign in the Theban Necropolis -- 12. Conclusion -- volume 2: Appendices.


Bibliography: pages 280-301 Theoretical thesis. Two volumes in one.

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


Copyright Alice McClymont 2016 Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright






1 online resource (x, 301, approximately 300 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:72288 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1283295