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Durham e-Theses
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Predynastic Egyptian representations of animals:
The journey from nature to art and beyond

Wing, George (2015) Predynastic Egyptian representations of animals:
The journey from nature to art and beyond.
Masters thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Main text of thesis) - Accepted Version
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This paper will argue that human-animal relationships in the Predynastic period of Egypt might be understood through the analysis of zoomorphic artefacts. Supplied with this paper is a database containing 617 three-dimensional zoomorphic objects excavated from Predynastic Egyptian sites. The analysis of the database, as well as critical discussions of forms leads to several conclusions. This paper details how artefacts may have related to the nature of cosmology and how animal-spirits represented aspects of place, identity and ancestors. Certain animals are appropriate for specific artefact types, such as fish being the most common animal depicted on palettes. The use of anthropological thought and ethnographic studies also aid in the interpretation of certain practices and beliefs related to animals and humans. The rise of elite powers seems to have affected how animals were used in artwork and iconography. Forms such as the ‘bull’s head’ amulet appear more frequently towards the Early Dynastic period, but also the nature of late Predynastic ceremonial artefacts seems to have altered how humans related with animals in artwork. This paper shows how the elite appropriation of forms affected animal images in relation to official writing, but also how some aspects of hieroglyphic writing may have been anticipated on zoomorphic artefacts in the Predynastic period.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Archaeology; Predynastic; Predynastic Egypt; Predynastic period; Egypt; Egyptology; Anthropology; Animals; Animal; Zoomorphic art; Zoomorphic artwork; Artefact; Artefacts; Figurines; Palettes; Totemism; Totem; Taboo
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 Nov 2015 11:42

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