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Toponymy on the periphery: placenames of the Eastern Desert, Red Sea, and South Sinai in Egyptian documents from the Early Dynastic until the end of the New Kingdom

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posted on 2022-03-28, 11:17 authored by Julien Cooper
The study of placenames in Egyptology is generally confined to lexicographic collection and problems of localisation. More than filling in the blanks on a map, studies in toponymy can address many questions regarding the relationship between people and their environment.This thesis is an area-study of toponyms in the Eastern Desert, South Sinai, and Red Sea as found in Egyptian texts from the Early Dynastic until the end of the New Kingdom (c. 3100BC-1050 BCE). For the urban civilisation of pharaonic Egypt, these regions were arid hinterlands, exploited for their mineral wealth, but never directly colonised or controlled. Many placenames of this region, most notably Punt, have not been satisfactorily located - their finite geographical positions having long been a desideratum of Egyptology. An integrated approach that studies all the placenames of these regions may however yield greater insights into the regions geography, while matching specific archaeological remains with toponyms known from texts. As this region is proximal to Egypt, yet outside political control, it is notable for exhibiting placenames in both Egyptian and foreign languages. This might be compared to the situation in New World toponymy, where an introduced European stratum of placenames commonly replaces, but not eradicates, an older indigenous toponymy. The area thus reveals a multitude of toponymic phenomena and un-located placenames, yet is geographically homogenous and differentiated from the urban toponymy of the Nile Valley. This work comprises of two parts.The first is a descriptive section, reconstructing the historical geography of Egypt’s peripheral regions by marrying a database of toponyms with textual and archaeological sources. The second is an analytical investigation of the culture and language of placenames as apparent in these marginal regions. The database involves translating all texts where the relevant toponyms occur, analysing the etymology of these names (in Egyptian or foreign-languages) and locating them with respect to archaeological sites. The analytical section evaluates semantic and linguistic features in the placenames, and attempts to explain the social processes behind placenaming in Egypt’s marginal environment.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Toponymy and ancient history -- Chapter 2. Proper nouns and placenames in the Egyptian script -- Chapter 3. The historic, geographic and archaeological context -- Chapter 4. Foreigners on the periphery : the language and phonology of foreign names -- Chapter 5. Toponymic databank -- Chapter 6. Toponomastica : toponyms from the topographical lists and execration texts -- Chapter 7. The toponyms and labels for the Turin map -- Chapter 8. Geographic analysis -- Chapter 9. Linguistic analysis -- Chapter 10. Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 373-410

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 Julien Cooper 2015. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (xii, 410, 197 pages) colour illustrations, colour maps

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