Three Hundred Years of Death

The Egyptian Funerary Industry in the Ptolemaic Period


In Three Hundred Years of Death: The Egyptian Funerary Industry in the Ptolemaic Period, Maria Cannata provides a detailed survey of the organisation of the necropolises and the funerary workers, as well as their role in the practical aspects of the mummification, funeral, burial, and mortuary cult of the deceased, in Ptolemaic Egypt (332-30 BC). The author gathers together and synthesises hundreds of the original textual sources, as well as the relevant archaeological sources, on the organisation of the funerary industry and its practitioners, revealing important regional and chronological variations overlooked in studies focusing on a limited geographical area, a shorter timeframe, or a smaller group of documents.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Maria Cannata, Ph.D. (2009), Oxford University, teaches Egyptology at Peking University. She has published many articles on the funerary sphere in the Graeco-Roman Period, including, most recently, From the Embalmers’ Cabinets of Curiosities and Titbits from Tatters: Papyrus Bodleian MS.Egypt.d.19(P).
"The volume should be of considerable interest and utility to a wide range of Egyptologists and Demotic and Greek papyrologists, as well as historians, anthropologists and archaeologists interested in the social history of death. The author has made the material accessible to those who do not control any or all of the ancient languages used in Ptolemaic Egypt, by providing English translations of all of the ancient passages cited. Those who do know the languages and source materials, however, will appreciate the author’s detailed discussions and considerations of the readings and meanings of individual words, phrases and passages with reference to transliterations, transcriptions and even hand copies of Demotic. There is also an extensive index of sources cited with bibliographic references, for those who wish to consult editions of the primary sources for themselves. The volume can thus be profitably consulted and used both as an overview of Egyptian funerary priests and their practices in Ptolemaic Egypt, and as a comprehensive reference work for many of their activities.”
- Brian Muhs in Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 116-6 (2021)

“Das Buch hat einen überraschend positiven Eindruck ergeben. (…) Die Lektüre ist auch so sehr zu empfehlen.”
- Stefan Bojowald, in SZRKG/RSHRC/RSSRC, 115 (2021)
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Tables, Figures and Plates
Illustration Credits
Outline of Egyptian Chronology

 1 Setting the Scene
 2 Previous Scholarship on the Subject
 3 Scope and Organisation of the Book
 4 Notes on the Conventions and Abbreviations Used

Part 1 The Organisation of the Necropolis and its Funerary Priests

1 The Theban Necropolis
 1 The Overseer of the Necropolis
 2 The Lesonis
 3 The Steward
 4 Choachytes
 5 Territorial Jurisdiction of the Choachytes
 6 Embalmers
 7 Territorial Jurisdiction of the Embalmers
 8 Other Funerary Priests

2 The Edfu Necropolis
 1 The Overseer of the Necropolis and the Lesonis
 2 Choachytes and Lector-Priests
 3 Territorial Jurisdiction of Edfu Necropolis Workers

3 The Memphite Necropolis
 1 The Overseer of the Necropolis
 2 God’s Seal-Bearers as Lector-Priests and Choachytes
 3 Territorial Jurisdiction of the Memphite Funerary Priests

4 The Hawara Necropolis
 1 The Overseer of the God’s Seal-Bearers and Embalmers
 2 God’s Seal-Bearers (and) Embalmers as Lector-Priests and Choachytes
 3 Other Funerary Priests
 4 Territorial Jurisdiction of the Hawara Funerary Priests
 5 The Organisation of the Hawara Necropolis

5 The Necropolises in Middle Egypt
 1 The Head of the Necropolis
 2 Lector-Priests and Embalmers
 3 Man of the Necropolis
 4 Seal-Bearer Who Attends the God
 5 God’s Seal-Bearers
 6 Necrotaphoi
 7 Territorial Jurisdiction of the Funerary Priests in Middle Egypt

6 Female Funerary Priests
 1 Choachytes
 2 Embalmers

7 Services, Income and Taxation of Funerary Priests
 1 Definition of the Services Performed by Funerary Priests
 2 Different Types of Revenues
 3 Income of Lector-Priests and Embalmers
 4 Personal and Professional Taxation, Contributions and Exemptions
 5 Other Economic Activities of the Funerary Priests

8 Priestly Associations
 1 Association of Theban Choachytes
 2 Association of Theban Lector Priests
 3 Association of Memphite Mortuary Priests
 4 Associations of Mortuary Priests in the Fayum
 5 Associations of Mortuary Priests in Middle Egypt

9 The Funerary Priests and Their Social Context
 1 Place of Residence of the Funerary Priests
 2 The Funerary Priests and Their Families

Part 2 Death, Mummification and Burial

10 Death
 1 The Mourning Period
 2 Arranging for the Services of Funerary Priests
 3 Transport of the Deceased to the Necropolis

11 Mummification
 1 The Embalming Place: the pr-nfr and the wꜥb.t
 2 Arranging for the Mummification of the Deceased
 3 The Mummification Process: Stages, Rituals and Materials
 4 Funerary Priests Involved in the Mummification Process

12 Burial
 1 Role of the Funerary Priests Following the Mummification Process
 2 Funeral and Burial
 3 The Lexicology of the Entombment
 4 Delayed Burial
 5 Mortuary Cult

13 Funerary Expenses
 1 Mummification Materials and Burial Equipment: Production, Acquisition and Provision
 2 Provision of Mummification Materials and Burial Equipment
 3 Burial Taxes
 4 Cost and Payment of the ‘Mummification and Burial’

14 The Deceased
 1 The Living and the Dead
 2 Epithets of the Dead
 3 Social Status and Ethnic Background of the Deceased

Part 3 Necropolises, Tombs and Burials

15 Necropolises
 1 Location of Burial Grounds
 2 Funerary Landscape: Topographical Textual Notes
 3 God’s Acre: Possession, Taxation and Acquisition of Plots and Tombs

16 Tombs
 1 The Lexicography of Tombs’ Typology
 2 Tombs’ Typology: Textual and Archaeological Evidence
 3 Building a New Tomb
 4 Using an Existing Tomb
 5 Collective Tombs

17 Burials
 1 Select Survey of Inhumations’ Typology

Part 4 Discussion and Conclusion

18 Discussion and Conclusion
 1 The Organisation of the Necropolis and its Funerary Priests
 2 Death, Mummification and Burial
 3 Necropolises, Tombs and Burials

Appendix 1: Palaeographical and Orthographical Analysis of the Root ḳs
Appendix 2: P. Florence 3667 (111 BC)
Appendix 3: Tables
List of the Main Primary Sources Analysed (arranged by necropolis and category)
Bibliographical Details of the Primary Sources Cited (Arranged Alphabetically and by Museums’ Inventory Number)
List of Personal Names
List of Toponyms Mentioned
Select Index of Words
Scholars and researchers of ancient Egypt, and anyone interested in the mortuary rituals practiced in the Ptolemaic Period and how they compare to those of the Pharaonic Period.
  • Collapse
  • Expand