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Illuminating the Path of Darkness: Transformative Aspects of Artificial Light in Dynastic Egypt

Author(s): Meghan Strong

Year: 2016

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When discussing light in Ancient Egypt, the vast majority of scholarly attention is placed on the sun, a physical constant of the landscape and the primary source of illumination. The development of ideas on the significance of natural light in Ancient Egyptian culture is abundant, particularly in religious sources. Studies on artificial light, however, stand in stark contrast to the number of academic publications on natural light. This emphasis forms a uni-dimensional view of lighting in Ancient Egypt, but creates the opportunity for a comprehensive study on the significance of artificial light within the Egyptian cultural tradition. Oil lamps, torches, and braziers were certainly employed in Ancient Egyptian domestic spaces to provide warmth and light in the evenings. Over time, however, these mundane tools were adopted and adapted into the sacred realm. In order to ensure the safe passage of their relatives to and from the land of the living, the Egyptians developed a series of rituals to provide light for the deceased along their way. This presentation will employ archaeological and art historical sources to discuss the type of light sources used, the rites with which light was associated, and the significance of providing illumination in the afterlife.

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Illuminating the Path of Darkness: Transformative Aspects of Artificial Light in Dynastic Egypt. Meghan Strong. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 402928)


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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America