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02/28/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Theodore N. Romanoff Lecture (ARCE): "The Medium is the Message"

The Mechanics of Egyptian Royal Living-Rock Stelae

Jennifer Grice Thum

We usually think of ancient Egypt as a culture of 'big building,' especially at the hands of the king. Yet there are some cases where royal stelae, bearing the officially sanctioned messages of the royal establishment, were inscribed into natural features rather than being set up in architectural spaces. These stelae were carved directly into 'living rock'--outcrops that are still where they were formed geologically. How did Egyptian views of living rock as a material inform this practice, and how was this monument type perceived to 'work'? This lecture explores the circumstances that led Egyptian kings to use the landscape as a monumental medium, and what those messages can tell us about how the landscape was understood.
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