Questions d’iconographie musicale: L’apport des terres cuites à la connaissance de la musique dans l’Égypte hellénistique et romaine

In: Greek and Roman Musical Studies
Christophe Vendries Université de Rennes II, Département d’histoire Place du recteur H. Le Moal, CS 24307 35043 Rennes cedex

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The Graeco-Egyptian terracottas produced during the Ptolemaic and Roman period provides good material for investigating musical life in Egypt. The majority of the Fayum terracottas have been found in tombs, or in private houses as sources of protection and good luck. Most of the motifs are original by comparison with the other terracotta work of the ancient world. Many musicians (aulos or syrinx players, harp players, women with drum or crotala) and dancers are shown among deities (mainly Harpocrates, Isis and Bès) and other cult celebrants in religious festivals. Cult practice is a common theme (we can see priests, prayers, wine and animals for sacrifice) and musicians provided performances during procession and festivals. The musician is associated with the cult by his crown (lotus-bud diadem or floral crown) and by the amphora at his feet, and most of them are ithyphallic, thus connoting prosperity. These pieces present an opportunity to investigate the connection between Egyptian and Greek traditions and to compare the motifs with papyrological and textual testimonies about music.

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