Thebes

Archive for the ‘Thebes’ Category

Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt is a collaboration between Richard Wilkinson, who is Regent’ Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Director of the Egyptian Expedition at the University of Arizona, and some of the most recognizable names in current Egyptology.

Written for a general audience, but with all the details a specialist looks for in a good book, Tausret is one of those books that will teach you about Egyptology while entertaining you with an adventure.  But it’s not the sort of swashbuckling adventure you might get with, say Belzoni.  It’s more of a detective story, spread out over a lot of detectives.

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The Donation Stele of Pharaoh Ahmose I endowed the office of the God’s Wife of Amun with an estate that consisted of financial income, real estate, her own retinue, and the means to support the entire operation.  Called the Per Duat, or, House of the Adoratrice, this estate allowed (at least in theory) the God’s Wife to operate with autonomy from the priesthood and royal house alike.

But in the early part of the New Kingdom the God’s Wife and the Divine Adoratrice were two separate offices within the temple hierarchy at Karnak, which can cause some confusion when exploring the history of these unique institutions.  This article will endeavor to disentangle this relationship as we seek to understand what these two offices were and how they came to be merged into a single position, or at least a single career track.

Note:  At the end of the last article in this series, The God’s Wives of Amun – Royal Women and Power Politics in the Eighteenth Dynasty, I said that this article would also cover the details of the Donation Stele and exactly what was endowed to the House of the Adoratrice.  After some revision it became clear that these were two separate articles.  The properties of the House of the Adoratrice will be explored in Part 2: The Demesne of the God’s Wife.  This present article will focus on the parallel development of the God’s Wife and the Divine Adoratrice, as well as the House of the Adoratrice as an institution.

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During the Middle Kingdom Period, having a daughter appointed as a God’s Wife in your local temple meant that you were a member of the upper crust of Egyptian society.  But at the dawn of the New Kingdom, Pharaoh Ahmose I drafted a legal contract that made the God’s Wife of Amun arguably the second most powerful person in the kingdom.  Before all was said and done, one God’s Wife would use the office to become the most powerful person in the kingdom. 

With Amun now the King of the Gods, his earthly consort came into her own wealth and authority in a way that would ultimately shatter the glass ceiling of Egyptian politics, at least for a while…

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The story of Amun’s rise to supremacy over the Egyptian pantheon is inseparable from the story of how Thebes rose from an insignificant speck on the map to the spiritual center of the Egyptian universe.    

This account of the ascent of Thebes and the god Amun sets the background for a series that will investigate an order of female pontiffs called the God’s Wives of Amun and how these tributaries converge into the ethos, or pathos, of the Heretic King, Akhenaten.   

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