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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Egyptology Scotland

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of talking to Egyptology Scotland at the Burrel about our 21st Dynasty coffin. This meant that not only did I have the opportunity to meet fans of Egyptology from the north but also to see some of the collections in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and in the Burrel. Thank you very much Egyptology Scotland for giving me these opportunities.

The Kelvingrove, has several exciting things on display, and I expect that different people will have different things that they liked. One of my favourites was this harper's scene.

It is on loan from the British Museum (EA55337). The Egypt Centre also has some British Museum items on loan. The Kelvingrove piece and is from the Rameside tomb of Amenemhat (TT163), Mayor of Thebes. It shows a blind harper singing to the deceased, his wife and his parents.

If any one is interested Jan Assmann wrote about this and another section of the tomb (EA 55336). It was published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 1979, 65, 54-77. If you don't have access to JEA, you can click here for a link (but alas no photos). The song sung by the harper expresses the wish that Amenemhat be transfigured through the auspices of both Re and Osiris, that his ba, ka and limbs are made whole. This is not one of those sensuous harpist songs dealing with the pleasures of this world. Jan Assmann elsewhere describes how harpists songs can be divided into those expressing the pleasures of the living world, often with a regret such pleasures will not continue, and ones like this which deal with the transfiguration of the tomb owner.

Perhaps both the sensual harpist songs and this 'transfiguration type', however, are both trying to achieve the same ends, to make sure the deceased gets to the afterlife.

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