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A Landscape and Materials-based Approach to Royal Mortuary Architecture in Early Third Millennium BC Egypt

Dickinson, T; (2014) A Landscape and Materials-based Approach to Royal Mortuary Architecture in Early Third Millennium BC Egypt. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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This dissertation examines the role that the building of royal mortuary complexes (RMC hereafter) played in the consolidation of the Egyptian state between the reigns of kings Khasekhemwy and Shepseskaf, c. 2,700-2,500 BC. The theoretical basis for this research is inspired by cross-cultural studies that demonstrate (a) that monuments are not only the after-effect of a centralised state system, but may themselves be integrative strategies that contribute more directly to a state’s formation and consolidation and (b) that a monument’s location and construction materials reflect both logistical and symbolic concerns with salient socio-political scope. The main analysis offered here consists of a sequential, monument-by-monument archaeological assessment of RMC location and construction materials with a particular emphasis on the role of a specialist workforce. This research combines both quantitative and qualitative methods that help flesh out possible logistical and symbolic implications associated with the decisionmaking process behind each RMC. The working and symbolic properties of a whole range of construction materials is determined via careful use of the limited contemporary, and more abundant later, Egyptian documentary sources, as well as demonstrable patterns of material use in the archaeological record. A geoarchaeological analysis of mudbrick provides an important category of additional information on the sourcing of mudbrick and the labour organisation, which has received only limited attention. A locational and materials-based approach brings together a wealth of complementary information pertaining to the functional and symbolic aspects of these monuments, and their wider landscapes that is usually treated separately and selectively. It also provides the tools necessary for addressing the use of mudbrick in architecture during this early period and a well-known shift from mudbrick to stone in RMCs. Overall it provides a more dynamic and holistic framework for understanding the role that monumental building played in this early period of the Egyptian Pharaonic state.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A Landscape and Materials-based Approach to Royal Mortuary Architecture in Early Third Millennium BC Egypt
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Volume two of the ethesis has not been made available due to third party copyright material.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1448710
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