10th Symposium on Egyptian royal ideology

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10. Symposium zur ägyptischen Königsideologie

10th Symposium on Egyptian royal ideology

"Rites, rituals and festivals as instruments of stability of the royal power"


Warsaw, 30 May to 2 June 2022


About conference  |  Conference programme  |  Abstracts  |  Warsaw city info



The topic of the upcoming conference is “Rites, rituals and festivals as instruments of stability of the royal power”. Rituals and festivals have always provoked vivid discussions among scholars. While much has already been said and written on these topics, we hope to look at them using new research perspectives. We would also like to deliberate on the contemporary multi-disciplinary/cross-disciplinary approaches to the widely understood theme.

Bringing together specialists in the field will allow us focus on various features of kingship mirrored in the rites, rituals and festivals performed in ancient Egypt. Consequently, we aim at showing different complementary aspects of royal ideology.

Download pdf version of the Conference programme


Monday, May 30th

Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Staszic Palace, Staszic Room (“Sala Majewskiego”, last floor)


10.00 am – 10.30 am – Opening of the conference

10.30 am – 11.15 am – Jadwiga Iwaszczuk “The Beautiful Feast of the Valley vs the Feast of Djeser-djeseru, Hathor Festival and Tpj šmw Festival in the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari: identification of the rituals and their meaning for the royal ideology”

11.15 am – 11.45 am – Coffee break

11.45 am – 12.30 pm – Pascal Vernus “The Integration of the « Royal Command » pertaining to rituals and festivals into the decorative programme of the temple”

12.30 pm – 1.15 pm – Filip Taterka “ The Feast and the Crown: combing royal coronation with religious festivals in Ancient Egypt”

1.15 pm – 2.45 pm – Lunch break

2.45 pm – 3.30 pm – Balázs J. Irsay-Nagy “Around the wall? The interpretation of pẖr ḥȝ jnb

3.30 pm – 4.15 pm – Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska “New Year Festival, establishing maat and making gods in the Pyramid Texts

4.15 pm – 5.00 pm – Daniel M. Méndez-Rodríguez “Kingship ritual(s) and cosmographic knowledge: the Case of the Book of the Twelve Caverns”

5.00 pm – 5.30 pm – Discussion

6.00 pm – Reception at the Staszic Palace (Kołłątaj Room, first floor, participants and invited guests)


Tuesday, May 31th

Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Staszic Palace, Majewski Room (“Sala Majewskiego”, last floor)

09.00 am – 9.45 am – Felix Arnold “Rituals of royal rejuvenation in the Early Old Kingdom: new evidence from Dahshur” (online)

9.45 am – 10.30 am – Andrzej Ćwiek “The Night of Ra”

10.30 am – 11.00 am – Coffee break

11.00 am – 11.45 am – Anastasiia Stupko-Lubczyńska “Come to Your Body!” On the question of the Cult Statue in the Offering Room”

11.45 am – 12.30 pm – Katarzyna Kapiec “The Southern Room of Amun in the ritual context of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari”

12.30 pm – 1.00 pm – Discussion

1.00 pm – 2.00 pm – Lunch break

2.00 pm – Trip to Wilanów Palace (participants)


Wednesday, June 1st

Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Staszic Palace, Majewski Room (“Sala Majewskiego”, last floor)

09.30 am – 10.15 am – Massimiliano Nuzzolo “The feast calendar of Niuserra’s Sun Temple: festivals, rites and economy at the crossroads”

10.15 am – 11.00 am – Linda Chapon “Funerary ritual and royal ideology in New Kingdom Temples of Millions of Years"

11.00 am – 11.30 am – Coffee break

11.30 am – 12.15 pm – Adrianna Madej “Rituals, celebrations and the legitimisation of a royal power – the case of Hatshepsut’s Royal Cult Complex Courtyard” (online)

12.15 pm – 1.00 pm – Frederik Rogner “Inscribing the King’s deeds for all eternity: a close look at the multimodal design of Ramesses III’s festival scenes at Medinet Habu” (online)

1.00 pm – 1.30 pm – Discussion

1.30 pm – 3.00 pm – Lunch break

Public Keynote Lecture  (National Museum in Warsaw)

3.00 pm – 4.00 pm – Julia Budka “Festivals, stability and instability of royal power in the Amarna Period: some aspects of Akhenaten’s royal ideology reconsidered”

4.30 pm – 6.00 pm – Visit to the National Museum in Warsaw (Egyptian and Faras galleries, participants and invited guests)

6.00 pm – Reception at Muzealna Restaurant (in the museum, participants and invited guests)

Thursday, June 2nd

Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Staszic Palace, Majewski Room (“Sala Majewskiego”, last floor)

09.30 am – 10.15 am – Mariam Ayad “The God’s Wives of Amun and the Sed-Festival”

10.15 am – 11.00 am – Filip Coppens “The Ptolemaic Basileus and Roman Emperor slaying Apophis for the gods of Egypt. The ritual smȝ (ṯstyw nw) ʿȝpp in context” (online)

11.00 am – 11.30 am – Coffee Break

11.30 am – 12.15 pm – Adam Łukaszewicz “A Ring and a name Egyptian royal symbols in a story of Alexander the Great"

12.15 pm – 12.45 pm – Discussion

12.45 pm – 1.15 pm – Closing remarks and the end of the conference

3.00 pm – Optional trip to the Royal Castle (participants)

Download a pdf version of Book of abstracts


Felix ArnoldMariam AyadLinda ChaponFilip Coppens | Andrzej ĆwiekBalázs J. Irsay-NagyJadwiga IwaszczukKatarzyna KapiecAdam ŁukaszewiczAdrianna Madej | Daniel M. Méndez RodríguezMassimiliano NuzzoloJoanna Popielska-GrzybowskaFrederik Rogner | Anastastasiia Stupko-LubczynskaFilip TaterkaPascal Vernus


Felix Arnold
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Abteilung Madrid

Rituals of royal rejuvenation in the early Old Kingdom: new evidence from Dahshur

Archaeological evidence found during excavation work in the valley of the Bent Pyramid highlights royal rituals that had been conducted during the lifetime of king Snofru. In a large garden complex remains of recurring ritual activity were detected, including the repeated construction of basins and the consumption of beer within a brick building. The complex was constructed and used before the 30th regnal year of the king and is thus probably unrelated to his Sed-festival. The garden complex may rather be identified with a mr.t of king Snofru. The archaeological evidence would confirm the use of such a structure for rituals of royal rejuvenation, possibly a hieros gamos of the king and Hathor. The garden complex sheds new light on the complexity of the structures related to the royal cult in the Old Kingdom.

Mariam Ayad
The American University in Cairo

The God’s Wives of Amun and the Sed-Festival

Blocks recovered from the vicinity of the temple of Monthu in North Karnak depict the God’s Wife of Amun (GWA) Shepenwepet II celebrating the sed-festival. While other women had participated, albeit in subordinate roles, in that festival, to date, this remains the only known attestation of a woman celebrating this all important festival. The blocks once belonged to an edifice of the GWA that once stood in North Karnak. This paper contextualizes the representation of the GWA celebrating the sed-festival as it probes the role of women in this royal festival, explores the reasons for their presence, and traces the rise in the power of the GWA that culminated in Shepenwepet’s celebration of the sed-festival.

Linda Chapon
Paul Valéry University, Montpellier 3

Funerary ritual and Royal ideology in New Kingdom temples of millions of years

In the 18th dynasty, a time of ideological rebirth and political stability, specific constructions particularly developed: the temples of millions of years. “Divine” temples were theoretically the place of worship of one or more deities, while temples of millions of years (or so often called funerary temples) were devoted to both the cult of the god and the king. Though, they share many similarities, particularly regarding iconographic programs, they certainly have embraced specific decoration and rituals according to the royal program of the sovereign and the specificities related to this type of building. Temples of millions of years meant to reflect the god/king symbiotic relationship and to embody the king’s rebirth in the afterlife. They eventually aimed at the eternal regeneration of royal power and, hence, its stability. It was at the 18th dynasty that the royal tomb clearly dissociates itself from the so-called “funerary” temple of the Old and Middle Kingdoms where the worship of the deceased king was practiced. Undeniably, the temples of millions of years were surely heirs of these royal funerary temples. Though, the funerary aspect was only one of the elements mirrored in these constructions.
What is noteworthy is that more than one temple of millions of years was constructed during the reign of some kings, both in Western and Eastern Thebes and in other areas. It seems clear that those situated in Western Thebes may have responded to a particular funerary, ritual and ideological landscape. We may then ask how the king’s cult in life and after death in the temples of millions of years, particularly those situated in Western Thebes, interact with that performed in other types of temples. In the often called “divine” temples, the living king integrates with the reliefs and cultic offerings to the god, but he also enjoys chapels dedicated to his cult. So, why and how the temple of millions of years and other kind of temples are different, since in both cases the king participates in the offerings and enjoy chapels of his own?
Ultimately, the objective of this paper is to contribute to understand the way kingship conceived itself and with respect to the society at this time and how decorative programs may reflect its needs, legitimacy and search for stability, as well as to explore relations of power and identity. In this sense, from the perspective of the cultural anthropology and sociology, it should be possible to recognize the connections between decorative and architectural discourse and structures of power, institutions and the systems of meaning they have built, and what role they played in the religious and material way culture appeared. That is, to delve into the 18th dynasty “regime of truth” and how the political discourse and official representation art was created, contested or negotiated. Thus, this paper will reflect through some case studies on whether and how the decoration of these temples possessed a particular iconographic and ritual program in connection to their royal and funerary function and how they echoed specific ideological, religious and political needs.

Filip Coppens
Czech Institute of Egyptology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague

The Ptolemaic Basileus and Roman Emperor slaying Apophis for the gods of Egypt. The ritual smȝ (ṯstyw nw) ʿȝpp in context

During the entire history of the ancient Egyptian state the office of kingship, embodied in the person of the living king, was its central, defining feature. Its exact role and function, as well as its (self)presentation and resulting perception, was neither fixed nor static, but constantly developed and transformed itself over time, in concordance with ongoing social and political changes. Throughout the course of the first millennium BC, the periodic foreign appropriation of the indigenous central authority continuously needed to be reconciled with the long established traditional concept of Egyptian kingship and its relation to the divine. Under the auspices of indigenous priesthoods, the foreign ruler, whether Ptolemaic basileus or Roman emperor, appeared to assume, at least outwardly, the traditional role expected of a pharaoh of Egypt in act and portrayal. The latter is most visible upon the walls of numerous traditional temples erected throughout Egypt during the Ptolemaic and Roman era, where these sovereigns continue to be depicted, well into Roman times, in the guise of pharaoh with typical royal regalia and titulary, uttering the expected phrases and anticipated prayers, while bringing offerings to the gods of Egypt.
Among the plethora of reliefs depicting the (foreign) ruler, one finds him with great regularity spearing, smiting or slaughtering animals as well as human foes, often‐representing forces of chaos. One type of ritual scene has the Ptolemaic/Roman ruler even facing the ultimate enemy continuously lurking at the borders of the ordered world – Apophis. The present paper intends to take a closer look at the ritual of “slaying (images of) Apophis” (smȝ (ṯstyw nw) ʿȝpp) as depicted upon the walls of temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman era. The ritual occurs in approximately thirty scenes attested in half a dozen traditional Egyptian temples, predominantly at Edfu, but also in Philae, Dendara, Esna and Karnak. The reliefs date for the most part from Ptolemaic times, from the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes onward, but still occur on temple walls during the Flavian Dynasty at the end of the first century AD. The paper aims to present an overview of these reliefs and accompanying texts, an analysis of the relation between and possible transmission of parts of the inscription(s) within a single temple and between temples, as well as the larger context in which these particular scenes occur, to gain a better understanding of when and where the Ptolemaic or Roman ruler is depicted slaying Apophis before the gods of Egypt.

Andrzej Ćwiek
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
Charles University, Prague

The Night of Ra

The name of a feast grḥ n Rʿ (‘the Night of Ra’) occurred as a rubrum, written with large signs, in one of the Abusir Papyri. The entry is a record of delivery of some products from the residence and the sun temple to the mortuary temple of Neferirkara. According to Paule Posener-Kriéger this name referred to the feast of the eve of the New Year. The ritual calendar was conducted in the framework of ideological and economic ties of the royal palace, the pyramid complex and the solar temple. The turn of the year, marked a.o. by the feast of wdnt jhy, was a crucial time related to the yearly journey of the sun. However, its daily cycles, including the symbolic death at night and rebirth at dawn, were also the matter of celebration.
It is suggested by the evidence of the architecture, decoration and texts of the sun temple of Niuserra. The name of a feast of Rʿ m tp ḥwt (‘Ra on the Roof’) may be connected with the corridor in the base of the obelisk. Its peculiar form symbolically represents the way of the sun along the four sides of the sky. Also other features of the architecture, including the travertine altar in the courtyard and the reliefs in the Room of Seasons, may be referred to the concepts of daily and yearly journeys of the sun in their entirety. The interpretation of the Fifth Dynasty sun temples as ‘mortuary temples of Ra’ seems thus an oversimplification, although certainly a particular stress was put on the liminal phases of both cycles, marked by the events like the ‘Night of Ra’. The feasts were an element of complex mutual relations of the sun god and his son, the king. They were ritual complements to the architecture and decoration, reflecting the Old Kingdom cosmology and ideology of kingship, which created patterns for later generations.

Balázs J. Irsay-Nagy
ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Around the wall? The interpretation of pẖr ḥȝ jnb

The expression pẖr ḥȝ jnb appears in the accession year entries of the Old Kingdom annals (WILKINSON, Royal Annals, 2000), and later once in Hatshepsut’s “Légende de la jeunesse” (Urk. IV, 261, 6 and 262, 8), always clearly in the contexts of the royal ascension to the throne. Since GARDINER, PSBA 25 (1903) 335 §2 the expression is understood as a circumambulation of the city wall, interpreted by many as a ritual for taking possession of the realm in a symbolic way. Additionally, in the Sokar festival scenes from Medinet Habu a procession to the necropolis is called pẖr jnb.w (MH IV, pl. 223, 1). This paper argues against the generally accepted interpretation as part of the rituals during the ascension to the throne, and for an identification of pẖr ḥȝ jnb as a euphemistic, but technical term for the royal funerary procession in the early dynastic period.

Jadwiga Iwaszczuk
Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences

The Beautiful Feast of the Valley vs the Feast of Djeser-djeseru, Hathor Festival and Tpj šmw in the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari: identification of the rituals and their meaning for the royal ideology

The Beautiful Feast of the Valley is considered one of the most important Theban festivals of the New Kingdom when the bark of Amun once a year visited the West Bank of Thebes. This theory, however, does not take into consideration the presence of different rites during the performance of the festival(s) depicted on the walls of temples and tombs. One may also notice several names of feasts carved there, as well as other discrepancies. The inconsistency suggests that several unconnected rituals/festivals are treated as one by scientists. This presentation aims to lay out all doubts concerning the identification of the festivals and indicate the meaning of each festival for the royal ideology.


Katarzyna Kapiec
Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences

The Southern Room of Amun in the ritual context of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari

The Southern Room of Amun, located in the south-western corner on the Upper Courtyard of the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, is a small room decorated with scenes depicting so-called frieze of objects composed of oils and linen, embracing scene with Hatshepsut and Amunet, offerings of oils and linen performed by Hatshepsut and her royal ka to Amun-Kamutef and by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III to Amun-Ra.
The location of the Southern Room of Amun and motifs depicted in its wall decoration constitute the two focal points in the study on the ritual function of this room. The research was concentrated particularly on repertoire of oils and linen, divine personalities of Amunet, Amun-Ra and Amun-Kamutef, the presence of the royal ka, and the selection of the royal costume and insignia. The connections of these thematic motifs with transformation, regeneration, rejuvenation and rebirth rituals were confronted with the religious ideas of other parts of the decorations in the Upper Courtyard. Aspects of the royal ideology encoded in the wall decoration and texts in the Southern Room of Amun were also examined.
The aim of the paper is to present the outcome of the study on the Southern Room of Amun’s place within the ritual context in the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari and discuss aspects of the royal ideology highlighted in the decoration of the studied room.

Adam Łukaszewicz
Faculty of Archaeology, University of Warsaw

A ring and a name. Egyptian royal symbols in a story of Alexander the Great

A version of Alexander Romance contains a fictional description of some symbolic activities in an Egyptian context, in which also the pharaoh Nectanebo II appears, disguised as an Egyptian astrologer and soothsayer.
Interpretation of dreams is a recurrent literary motif in the Egyptian influenced stories. In the narrative under discussion, king Philip II of Macedon has a dream concerning his wife’s pregnancy and the birth of a boy, the future ruler of Egypt and of the whole world, Alexander the Great. The dream inspired by the wiles of the ex-king Nectanebo, contained the use of papyrus fibres and sealing with a golden signet ring. Our interest will concentrate on the significance of these rituals and symbols, which predict the future of the divine scion. The story ends in a splendid banquet in the royal palace. The festive entertainment suddenly becomes a show of Egyptian magic.
The speaker will discuss the significance of the story in which some elements of Egyptian royal ideology are combined with pure fantasy and with some reminescences of modified history of facts.

Adrianna Madej
Faculty of Archaeology University of Warsaw

Rituals, celebrations and the legitimisation of royal power - the case of Hatshepsut’s Royal Cult Complex courtyard

Shortly after her enthronement, Hatshepsut initiated a comprehensive set of activities to justify her unprecedented act. A sophisticated narrative emerged to prove her predestination to be a king despite the fact that there was a man who had already been acting as the king. Hatshepsut exploited art and the power of rituals to support her case. In the temples she portrayed herself as the one who performed the cult and interacted with the gods, as well as a beneficiary of their graces, thus fulfilling one of the basic duties of a monarch. Moreover, the creation of the myth of the divine birth positioned her as the natural link between the world of gods and humans. Offering rituals honouring the deceased ruler were performed in the royal cult complex. They were designed to ensure his eternal life. In this place, the monarch, who had usually played an active role in the cult - giving offerings, performing ritual acts, interacting with the gods - turned from an actant into an object. The change in his role was necessary to emphasise the special position that the king occupied after his death. In Hatshepsut’s temple of millions of years, the sphere "belonging to" the king was shared by two rulers – the founder of the temple and her father, Thutmosis I. A connection of the two offering chapels (most probably not planned in the preliminary design of the temple) seems extraordinary. It was supported mainly by ideological reasons – e.g. the confirmation of the rights of the usurper to the throne, and perhaps also by pragmatic ones, i.e. the necessity to organise the mortuary cult of the deceased father. It should be noted, however, that all elements of the Royal Cult Complex served a narrative legitimising Hatshepsut's extraordinary position. The decoration of the common area for both chapels - the courtyard of the Complex - clearly indicates who was to play the leading role in this space. The specific choice of scenes in which the king is the passive participant of the religious ceremonies and the various kind of activities is intended to emphasise the eternal and infinite rights to the crown. The gifts of grace from the gods were to guarantee life, stability and millions of years of reign, as well as ‘re-coronation’ and consolidation of power. Participation in festivals honouring her father pointed to the continuity of the dynasty and the ‘natural’ succession. This paper aims to achieve two main goals. Firstly to show how Hatshepsut created (in Djeser- djeseru) a multidimensional story about the legitimacy of power, the resurrection, and the beginning of a new life cycle. She achieved this by modifying and innovatively juxtaposing elements appearing in older temples (both royal and divine). The meaning of some components was completely redefined. Secondly, it seeks to answer the question of what rituals or cult-related activities might have been undertaken in the courtyard of the royal cult complex - both during Hatshepsut's lifetime and after her death.

Daniel M. Méndez Rodríguez
Department of History, Universidad de La Laguna

Kingship ritual(s) and cosmographic knowledge: the case of the Book of the Twelve Caverns

The Book of the Twelve Caverns is a cosmographic text that belongs to the Books of the Netherworld, such as the Book of the Hidden Chamber (i.e. Amduat) or the Book of Gates. It mainly consists of a list of supernatural beings that dwelled in the caverns of the Duat. Formerly known as Naville’s spell 168 of the Book of the Going forth by Day (i.e. Book of the Dead), for some decades considered an independent composition. The phraseology and the attestation in several temple sources provide enough evidence to suggest that it was not merely a funerary text. The composition was also used in the temple sphere related to offering liturgies within diverse ceremonies linked to Osiris and/or Egyptian kingship. One of the latter is the Ritual of the confirmation of the royal power in the New Year, mainly intended to protect the king during these dangerous transitional days. The aim of this communication is to focus on the kingship involvement in the Book of the Twelve Caverns and the specific textual features within the aforementioned ceremony.

Massimiliano Nuzzolo
Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences

The feast calendar of Niuserra’s sun temple: festivals, rites and economy at the crossroads

The feast calendar from the sun temple of Niuserra was found by Ludwig Borchardt in 1901 during the latest phases of excavation of the sun temple. It is composed of a considerable number of inscribed fragments, not always matching with one another, which should originally formed two similar inscriptions placed at both sides of the entrance gate of the valley temple. It was only in 1977, however, that Wolfgang Helck first attempted at a complete reconstruction of their original shape, by assembling all the preserved fragments together and adding, where needed, specific ‘glosses’. Despite the high degree of arbitrariness of Helck’s reconstruction of this festivals list – already noticed by other scholars, and also briefly discussed here – the feast calendar from Niuserra’s sun temple still remains one of the most complete – and so far the oldest – examples of this kind of calendars attested in ancient Egypt. In the present paper several aspects of the festivals mentioned in Niuserra’s sun temple calendar will be discussed. A special focus will be on the correlation between the ritual aspects of these festivals and their economic implications for the sun temple cultic life, also in comparison with the similar festivals attested in the contemporary sources, in particular the Abusir Papyri, and the private tombs feast lists.

Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska
Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences

New Year Festival, establishing maat and making gods in the Pyramid Texts

The author of the paper aims at presenting the New Year Festival as expressed in the Pyramid Texts, with reference to both contextual and co-textual arguments. The analysis will be concerned with scrutiny and discussion of the contextualisation of the days of the festival in question within the necessity of establishing maat and making gods. The question as to what these two concepts may mean will be addressed and scrutinised. Moreover, the fascinating and riveting nuances of meaning of the concepts of maat and of making gods as features of kingship mirrored in the festive acts presumably performed in ancient Egypt will be discussed in the lecture. This paper constitutes a part of a broader theme studied by the author, and is concerned with analyses of both primaeval elements and the role/s of the king described by the Ancient Egyptians in the Pyramid Texts.


Frederik Rogner
Netherlands Institute for the Near East
Swiss National Science Foundation

Inscribing the king’s deeds for all eternity: a close look at the multimodal design of Ramesses III’s festival scenes at Medinet Habu

While much research has been conducted on the role of rites and rituals in Ancient Egypt and on their (re-)presentation in different media, the focus of these analyses has often been on the content itself rather than on the way in which different sources convey this content. In an analysis of the festival scenes in the second courtyard of Medinet Habu I will demonstrate the essential hermeneutic procedure of taking a step back and first looking at how the compositions convey their message before concluding what this message was actually intended to be. A closer look at these scenes shows a wide array of devices used to endue them with a strong sense of temporality and sequentiality. It is created by the close entanglement of figures with labels describing their actions and rendering their speeches as well as by the orientation of longer texts, framing part of the actions represented, to mention but two factors. The strong temporal and sequential character influences the reception of these compositions in several ways: First, it not only sharply increases the degree of visual narrativity, thereby causing a strong impression of eventfulness in the viewers’ minds, but it actually makes the images able to clearly convey the sequence of events. Second, as a consequence, it causes the events represented to be inscribed in a twofold sense: By being materially inscribed in the walls of the temple they also cause the king and his actions – and thus his fame as good ruler fulfilling his duties as ritualist – to be effectively inscribed in the memory of posterity. In this case, a close look at the means that the creators of those compositions employed in order to convey certain messages can give more plausibility to the hypothesis that such scenes were not (only) intended to show the ritual events but to actually represent them in the strongest sense of the word, perpetuating the actions and the ruler’s glory in all eternity. Finally, these observations also underline the high degree of planning hidden behind the superficial ease of these lively and vivid compositions and lead thus back to the ancient practices and the individuals responsible for the creation of these multimodal compositions.

Anastastasiia Stupko-Lubczynska
Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw

“Come to your body!” On the question of the cult statue in the offering room

It is broadly known that the worship rituals in Ancient Egypt require a “body” for various activities to be addressed to, either being executed in front of it (such as libation, censing, food presentation), or directly on it (dressing, anointing etc.). When the Old Kingdom offering ritual is concerned, it has long been assumed that the offering rooms of the “standard” pyramid temples (also known as the sanctuary of the Totenopfertempel) housed the cult statue, even though not a single fragment of such statue was discovered in any of these rooms.
On the other hand, it is certain that in the course of the New Kingdom offering ritual (also known as the Ritual of Amenhotep I or the Ritual of Ancestors), addressed to the king or god, the entire sequence of ritual acts took place in a room, in which the cult statue was surely present. During this ritual, however, at one point, toward the end, there is an exclamation “Come to your body!”, which seems to indicate that all the actions taking place prior to this moment were happening in front of the “empty” statue – not “inhabited” by a spirit.
Considering the fact that the New Kingdom version is deeply rooted in the tradition of the Old Kingdom royal offering ritual – how this can be explained? What light does it shed on the Old Kingdom material? Finally, what if there was no cult statue in the Old Kingdom offering room and if so – how can we interpret the ritual observances taking place in the Totenopfertempel?
When examining such a possibility, textual, archaeological, and architectural evidence from both royal and non royal Old Kingdom mortuary monuments shall be investigated in parallel, as – when the offering ritual is concerned – both these spheres have a lot in common. Such a holistic approach may offer a new perspective on the issue of the presence of the cult statue in the Old Kingdom offering rooms – emphasising how certain Egyptological ideas, usually taken for granted, are, in fact, far from being proven.


Filip Taterka
Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences

The Feast and the Crown: combing royal coronation with religious festivals in Ancient Egypt

The coronation inscription of Horemheb informs us that his coronation took place during the Opet Feast. This has traditionally been interpreted as a way of providing special legitimacy to Horemheb’s rule, given the fact that he was a general of non-royal origin. It seems, however, that combing royal coronation with various religious feasts was not an uncommon practice in ancient Egypt, at least in the New Kingdom period. The aim of the paper is to demonstrate that royal coronations were often organised in conjunction with important religious festivals and that the same practice was valid also for the sed-festivals, when the coronation was ritually repeated. Analogies from European monarchies will also be used in order to show that the practice’s aim was not so much to strengthen the claim of particular ruler, but rather to give sacral legitimacy to kingship as such. This will also shed new light on the actions of Horemheb, which should be understood as a wish to follow a long-established tradition rather than to create a new one upon particular circumstances of his coronation.

Pascal Vernus

The integration of the « royal command » pertaining to rituals and festivals into the decorative program of the temple

The rituals and festivals and their requirements are often involved in a « royal command » (wḏ nsw) pertaining to a temple. We can distinguish three degrees of involvement.
1. Historical royal commands displayed via monumental versions in the temple with the status of add-on pieces
They were either erected as a self-standing monument or carved on some architectural part of the temple, mostly in «transitional» zones of its area. They remain relatively autonomous with respect to its decorative program. It is only secondarily that they may happen to serve as a caution for a stably established ceremonial of rituals and festivals.
2. Historical royal commands deeply integrated into the decorative programme of the temple.
Three main degrees may be distinguished:
a) Historical royal commands are liable to be quoted in the « bandeau texts », a particular part of the temple decoration, and also as a kind of attached document in a set of scenes aiming at promoting the king's beneficial activity for the rituals and festivals performed in the temple and its expected retribution by insuring him a stable reign (exempli gratia: Ramses III's Karnak temple wall).
b) Historical royal commands are liable to be the centre of a ritual scene showing the king in front of the god (exempli gratia: Thutmosis III, in the Semna temple). An actual deed about festivals requirements and outlays is promoted into the stably established mythical universe of the temple.
c) Historical royal commands sometimes happen to become a part of the standardised ceremonial of a festival, susceptible to be re actualised by a king a long time after their original enactment (exempli gratia: the royal command included in a Amenhotep III's sed-festival ceremonial is re implemented in the Osorkon II's one). The underlying process is a dialectic involving a dynamic relationship between actual event and mythical stereotype, or how is resolved the conflict between ineluctable evolution inherent to history and the ideological requirement of stability and permanence.
-3. Fictitious commands implemented in the decorative program of the temple.
According to a well-known transposition, the divine society organisation is supposed to share some features with the human society one. Among them, it shares the use of the royal command as a basic deed of power. Ultimately, the capacity of issuing such a command pertains to the solar creator and universal god, Atum, (/Re/Re-Harakhtes/Atum-Re-Harakhtes). Now, according to the metonymy principle, a command explicitly presented as an institutional act by some relevant features (and not only by a loose employment of wḏ, ḏd, mdw, etc) can be issued by his secretary (Thot), or by another god (Amun, Ptah, Isis, Osiris, Horus, Hathor).
Two kinds of institutional commands issued by a god should be distinguished in the decorative program of the temple:
a) Command issued by a god for the benefit of the pharaoh (exempli gratia: Atum granting Ramses II with a reign as long as his (stability!) is characterised as an institutional act by allusion to the ceremonial of royal command).
b) Command issued by a god for the benefit of another god (exempli gratia: the Götterdekret über das Abaton takes the form of a command issued by Re to establish the regulations of the Osiris cult). The auctoritas inherent to the royal ideology is implemented to insure the stability of rituals and festivals!

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Dear Guests,

Here are some basic information that may be useful during your stay in Warsaw. You will find more under the provided links. We especially recommend the official city’s tourist information site where everything is up to date:
https://warsawtour.pl/en/main-page/ (English)
https://warsawtour.pl/de/hauptseite/ (German)
You will find many inspirations there, both for the main and the less known attractions.

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