Thesis ID: CBB574717482

Conceptualizing Life after Death. The Evolution of the Concept of Duat and Related Notions in Egyptian Funerary Literature (2019)


The aim of this dissertation is to trace the diachronic development of the notion of Duat, the ancient Egyptian realm of the dead. Despite being a key component of the afterlife beliefs, this notion has defied all scholarly attempts at a clear definition, as it underwent a process of evolution over thousands of years without ever designating just one place at a time, but always possessing both chthonic and celestial features at once. Furthermore, new images and ideas were constantly introduced, and new layers were added to the core ideological framework established in earlier times. This study is based on the analysis of royal and non-royal funerary texts from the end of the Old Kingdom to the end of the New Kingdom (Pyramid and Coffin Texts, Book of the Dead, Underworld Books, and Books of the Sky) and aims to outline what the term Duat encompassed, where it was thought to be located, and how its characterization evolved over time. Besides presenting the most significant passages mentioning and/or describing the Duat in the various funerary compositions, each chapter will also discuss any relevant theological, cosmological, geographical, and astronomical notions necessary to clarify the conceptual framework, of which the Duat formed but a part, and will try to relate its evolution to the concurrent changes in Egyptian culture, society, and ideology. Additionally, since patterns of distribution of texts and imagery played a significant role in both temples and tombs, an analysis of the correlation between the various funerary texts and their material support complements the study, with the purpose of highlighting what the Egyptians believed to be a magical synergy between the texts for the afterlife and their context. By bringing together all these aspects, significant insight will be gained not only into the conceptualization of the next, metaphysical world but also into the understanding of the physical reality in which the Egyptians lived every day, long before those funerary texts would be of any use to them.

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Authors & Contributors
Janot, Francis
Belmonte, Juan Antonio
Belmonte Avilés, Juan Antonio
Brown, Elizabeth A. R.
Calvo Martínez, José Luis
Clay, Jenny Strauss
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
English Historical Review
Cambridge University Press
Four Courts Press
Peter Lang
Northgate Publishers
Funeral rites and ceremonies
Science and literature
Empedocles of Agrigentum
Giesey, Ralph E.
Kantorowicz, Ernst Hartwig
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
20th century
Bronze age
Alexandria (Egypt)
Mediterranean region
Hellenistic world
Middle and Near East
Rome (Italy)

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