Communication with the divine in ancient Egypt: hearing deities, intermediary statues and sistrophores

Simmance, Eleanor Beth (2019). Communication with the divine in ancient Egypt: hearing deities, intermediary statues and sistrophores. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the desire for contact with deities in Egypt, the artistic and textual expression of which can be viewed as characteristic of ‘personal piety’. The attribution of hearing abilities to deities through epithets and phrases is evocative of human attempts to communicate with the divine sphere, and the Egyptian evidence is presented. A case study of so-called ‘intermediary statues’, which claim to facilitate communication between human and god, offers an opportunity to investigate how some members of the elite adapted their artistic output to take advantage of popular beliefs, furthering their own commemoration. Sistrophorous statues (bearing a naos-sistrum) are well-represented in the intermediary corpus, and their symbolism is explored alongside the significance of statue form and temple location in the context of communication with gods. The nature of the authority and power present in the communicative relationships between human, god and statue is considered, in part through the lens of compliance-gaining theory. It is argued that the notion of hearing deities and mediation provided humans with some power over their gods, and statue-owners with a means to maintain elite governance over what were ostensibly more personal and accessible modes of worship.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > DT Africa


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