Historical and Archaeological Aspects of Egyptian Funerary Culture

Religious Ideas and Ritual Practice in Middle Kingdom Elite Cemeteries


Historical and Archaeological Aspects of Egyptian Funerary Culture, a thoroughly reworked translation of Les textes des sarcophages et la démocratie published in 2008, challenges the widespread idea that the “royal” Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom after a process of “democratisation” became, in the Middle Kingdom, accessible even to the average Egyptian in the form of the Coffin Texts. Rather they remained an element of elite funerary culture, and particularly so in the Upper Egyptian nomes. The author traces the emergence here of the so-called “nomarchs” and their survival in the Middle Kingdom. The site of Dayr al-Barshā, currently under excavation, shows how nomarch cemeteries could even develop into large-scale processional landscapes intended for the cult of the local ruler. This book also provides an updated list of the hundreds of (mostly unpublished) Middle Kingdom coffins and proposes a new reference system for these.
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Biographical Note

Harco Willems (1956) is professor of Egyptology at the University of Leuven. He has published numerous books and articles on Egyptian Middle Kingdom history, religion, and archaeology. He is the director of the Leuven archaeological mission to Dayr al-Barshā.

Table of contents

Preface Note to the Reader Introduction Chapter I. Nomarchal Culture: Political, Administrative, Social, and Religious Aspects Chapter II. A Middle Kingdom Nomarchal Cemetery: Dayr al-Barshā Chapter III. The Coffin Texts and Democracy Concordance to the Sigla of Coffin Texts Manuscripts and Middle Kingdom Coffins Bibliography


All interested in the history, archaeology and religious theory of the Middle Kingdom, and particularly students of Egyptian administration, society and funerary culture of that period.