This paper discusses a group of fourteen faience figurines that entered the collection of the British Museum in 1891. Although the figurines were purchased through the antiquities market, they formed a homogenous group that can be typologically and stylistically dated to the late Middle Kingdom (1800–1650 B.C.). Similarities in manufacturing techniques, shape, decoration, raw materials, and other aspects of the technologies employed to create them indicate a common provenance, and by extension, place of production. The site of Lahun is tentatively proposed here as that place of production, based on the date the pieces were purchased as well as the comparative studies. The second part of the article takes a more theoretical and methodological approach to establish the degree to which faience figurine production was centralised and/or dispersed to local centres during the Middle Kingdom, taking four key variables. The dissonant evidence provided by the study of these four different variables, which yielded some conflicting information, demonstrated that faience production was an ‘ambiguous’ process using a medium that could not be fully controlled during all the steps of production. The only degree of control that could be exercised was related to the individual craftsmanship of the artisans. Since faience figurines of the late Middle Kingdom were not produced in moulds, and were therefore not mechanically reproducible, only skilled makers with access to the necessary knowledge about the chemical processes involved could have generated such artefacts.
The aim of the article is to trace the history of faience figurines in late Middle Kingdom Egypt, following a metanarrative level of synthesis. Moving from one of the most visible changes in the course of history, the turn from Modernism to Postmodernism, the article defines a key to read the path of faience figurine production from their appearance in the late Middle Kingdom to their disuse at the end of the Second Intermediate Period: changes in the pattern of society correspond to the production of a different material culture and to the abandonment of previous perceptions. Faience figurines represent a diagnostic category of objects defining a specific epoch. Their value as historical signatures is here used to supply a different interpretation for the history of the Second Intermediate Period Egypt, integrating microhistories with bigger pictures, as a combination of Postmodernism and Grand Narratives approaches.
This article aims to analyse the behavioural response generated by people who came into contact with civilisations and places whose existence was previously unknown or only remotely registered in their collective knowledge. Three major cases have been taken into consideration: a.) the “discovery” of America during the sixteenth century CE when Europeans entered in contact with Aztecs, Cakchiquels, and Andeans; b.) the encounters with the civilisations in Tahiti and Hawaii during the eighteenth century CE, and c.) the ancient Egyptian arrival at Punt during the fifteenth century BCE under the reign of queen Hatshepsut. Although spatially and chronologically separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years, in all of these cases the “encounterers” (i.e., the ones who were moving towards the unknown or distant and contemporaries who were writing their own history) tended to project a self-perceived supremacy over the encountered people, configured as a spontaneous feeling of their supremacy over the local population (hence a “counterfeit” emic notion). In all the above cases, the “encountering” event gave rise to the creation of an “apotheosis” myth, in which the encounterers were supposed to be seen, and believed in, as “gods coming from the sky.” Applying concepts from the cognitive science to these historical events, the article aims to scrutinize the mental categories that tended to generate such a belief of divine superiority projected in the vision of the Other. Rather than being marginalized as an episodic event, the formation of an apotheosis myth can be interpreted as part of a global process, which emerges in the human mind-frame, solicited by mental processes and in contact with a number of similar external outputs.
Journal of Egyptian History aims to encourage and stimulate a focused debate on writing and interpreting Egyptian history ranging from the Neolithic foundations of Ancient Egypt to its modern reception. It covers all aspects of Ancient Egyptian history (political, social, economic, and intellectual) and of modern historiography about Ancient Egypt (methodologies, hermeneutics, interplay between historiography and other disciplines, and history of modern Egyptological historiography).
The journal is open to contributions in English, German, and French.
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