Looking for Light in Ancient Egyptian Nocturnal Rituals

Author(s): Meghan Strong

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "After Dark: The Nocturnal Urban Landscape & Lightscape of Ancient Cities" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Given the modern abundance of artificial light, it is often assumed that ancient cultures had the means and desire to illuminate the night. The paucity of artificial lighting devices from ancient Egypt challenges this assumption and has led scholars to conclude that the evidence must be there, but earlier archaeologists have failed to recognize lighting equipment. This presentation will reexamine that viewpoint and incorporate evidence from the rich textual and iconographic record of the New Kingdom (ca. 1550 – 1070 BC). The New Year’s festival serves as a case study for examining the necessity for lighting devices, the relative cost of obtaining a lighting implement, and the significance of employing light in nocturnal rituals. The sensorial impact of artificial light will also be explored and provide new insight into the experience of night in ancient Egypt.

Cite this Record

Looking for Light in Ancient Egyptian Nocturnal Rituals. Meghan Strong. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450643)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 24.653; min lat: 21.861 ; max long: 36.87; max lat: 32.769 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23211