JRF Report Alice
MQACRC Junior Research Fellowship 2017 Report
20th March 2018
Causing his name to live: restoration, reconsecration, and reuse in the Theban necropolis following the Amarna Period
This project aimed to investigate ancient restoration activity in the non-royal tombs of the Theban necropolis following the program of erasure targeting specific words and images that occurred during the Egyptian Amarna Period (c. 1350–1330BCE). This project provided an epilogue to my doctoral research into the erasure program itself and its impact on the Theban tombs, by considering how later users of these sacred spaces dealt with their destruction. The post-Amarna Period restoration of non-royal monuments, as opposed to larger state-temples, has not previously received any in‑depth study.
The findings of this research are being prepared for publication in the form of two articles. The first provides a catalogue of post-Amarna Period restoration activity in the Theban tombs, with an analysis of the practical aspects. The study concludes that there was significant variation in how restorations were carried out, namely in regard to the techniques used (which was largely dependent on the medium of the decoration), the ‘accuracy’ of the restoration (in regard to the original text or image that had been removed), and its distribution within individual tombs and throughout the necropolis. On this latter point, it is notable that restoration occurred only in exterior areas for some tombs, while others had restoration throughout. The second article offers a consideration of the ideological motivations and implications for restoration in these non-royal monuments. It was found that some restoration work occurred alongside other activities, such as tomb reuse or possible reconsecration efforts, whereby destroyed sections of the decoration were repaired in order for the tomb to continue its sacred mortuary function. Other, more outwardly instances of restoration in prominent tombs, however, were perhaps part of or inspired by the state-wide program to reinstate traditional practices that can be found in nearby temple complexes. The phenomenon of restoration itself is also considered, as a demonstration of human engagement with and potential modification of the past.
The MQACRC Junior Research Fellowship provided necessary financial and community support for the carrying out of this research project. In April 2017, I was able to attend the Annual Meeting of the American Research Centre for Egyptology in Kansas City, USA in April 2017, to present a paper titled “Restoration, reuse, and reconsecration: The treatment of Theban tomb erasures following the Amarna Period”. I received useful feedback on my preliminary findings from international colleagues that assisted in my research going forward. I was also able to obtain copyright permission for a number of archival images that will accompany the project’s publications. These images, kindly supplied by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and the Institut français d’archéologie orientale in Cairo, provide documentation of restored erasures from Theban tombs that is not elsewhere published. In addition to the forthcoming publication of my doctoral thesis, the findings of this research project will offer the first systematic study of the Amarna Period erasure program and its aftermath, an important piece of the puzzle that forms this complex era of ancient Egyptian history.