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Tomb story: the elite of early Egypt : an investigation concerning the influence of 'elite theory' upon interpretations of elite mortuary evidence from the Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods (4000-2545 BC)

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posted on 2022-03-29, 03:41 authored by Olivier P. Rochecouste
The word ‘elite’ has been used since the late 19th century as a social category to define the ruling minority of modern society. The term however, has also been used by archaeologists to socially categorise individuals from the mortuary evidence who may represent institutions or ruling minorities of ancient societies. This has been applied to the study of the Egyptian Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods (4000–2545 BC) in order to outline the role of elite interaction within the development of the state. But textual sources are too vague to provide an explanation of elite interaction within various state formation theories, which can lead to numerous conclusions concerning the archaeological evidence. This thesis will discuss how the concept of elite theory has been utilised by Early Egyptian archaeologists, to interpret the material and textual evidence that is available at numerous sites; such as Hierakonpolis, Saqqara and Naqada. I will also focus on how modern terms, such as ‘elite’, are obstacles for interpreting the archaeological record and prevent a thoughtful recount of the people who lived during ancient Egypt’s earliest known times.


Table of Contents

Introduction. Egyptology and the word 'elite' -- Chapter 1. Marx, Childe and the predynastic elite revolution -- Chapter 2. 'Patrician', 'Ruling class', and 'Elite' -- Chapter 3. A game of chiefs, masters and pendragons -- Chapter 4. Concluding discussion. What stories are we trying to tell?


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 51-60

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


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

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Yann Tristant


Copyright Olivier P. Rochecouste 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (viii, 60 pages)

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