The Purification of the Pharaoh in Graeco-Roman Temples
The lecture discussed the purification of the pharaoh in temple decoration. Examples of such scenes are often found in a sequence. This sequence usually features the exit from the palace, the purification, the coronation and the introduction of the pharaoh to the patron of the temple but variations and additions to this configuration are not uncommon. Evidence suggests that in the Graeco-Roman period most examples of the purification sequence adhere to a common format which was established no later than the Canopus Synod of 238 BCE. This format dictated certain changes in the placement and fewer variations in the order of the scenes, as well as an apparent shift towards uniformity and simplicity, compared to earlier examples.
The common features of the post-Canopus format indicate some of the functions of the purification sequence relating to the actuality of temple life and ritual practices. Details of the four principal scenes point towards an alternative order of reading – a cycle of life and death that is parallel and complimentary to the obvious progression of the sequence. Beyond that, the intricacies and exceptional features of different examples provided hint at stylistic divergence, which can be detected in the cases of larger, well-preserved temples such as Edfu and Dendera.
Konstantin Ivanov holds an MA degree in Egyptology from the University of Copenhagen. He is currently an independent researcher, whose research interests focus on temple architecture and decoration.
This talk was given at the September 2019 meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group, which was held on 1st September 2019 at 3pm BST. Click here to download the review of this meeting.