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David Chapman & Associate Professor Boyo Ockinga

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 3 March 2020 (Week 2), 2-3.30pm

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world. View the schedule for the research seminar.

All are welcome! Please arrive on time and join us after the seminar for coffee, tea and biscuits!

Convenor: Dr Alexandra Woods Twitter


David Chapman | PhD candidate, Macquarie University

Supposed Spies and Fragmentary Texts: New insights on the “eyes-and-ears of the king” in 18th Dynasty Egypt

During the 18th dynasty many high officials are attested with various designations which identify them as “the eyes” and “ears” of the King. Similar titles are attested across later Near Eastern cultures. In line with these later analogous expressions, Norman de Garis Davies originally interpreted the Egyptian examples as titles associated with informants or spies who reported to the king, however, over time scholars have developed a variety of interpretations of these epithets. Despite the interest in these designations, no systematic study had previously been conducted on them, and scholars had been unable to come to a consensus as to their meaning.

This paper presents the insights from the first systematic study of these designations, their variations and the officials who held them in the 18th Dynasty. It challenges some previous assumptions about the readings of fragmentary texts and provides new insights which may allow one to understand these enigmatic epithets and the officials who employed them.

Associate Professor Boyo Ockinga | Macquarie University

The Decoration Program of TT233: a reflection of its owner’s interests?

Aspects of a New Kingdom Egyptian tomb’s decoration program often reflect its owner’s occupation. Obvious examples come to mind such as the tomb of Pahery at Elkab where we can see the collection of gold and its transport to the residence, an activity in which he was engaged as mayor of Elkab, a collection point for gold mined in the eastern desert; or the tomb of the vizier Rekhmire (TT100) which includes the texts relevant to the vizier (“Installation” and “Instructions”) as well as the depiction of a court session, the collection of taxes in Egypt and the reception of foreigners with their produce, all activities in which Rekhmire was involved. This also holds true for the Ramesside period, a time when, it is often thought, scenes of everyday life give way to religious themes. In the tomb of Neferrenpet/Kenro (TT178), for example, we find scenes of the temple workshops Neferrenpet managed and in the tomb of Tjay (TT23), scribe of the royal despatches, we have a scene showing what has been called pharaoh’s Foreign Office. This paper will consider the decoration program of a tomb that on first appearances seems to fit the view commonly held of Ramesside tombs; the decoration of the tomb of Saroy (TT233) is dominated by religious themes, yet a closer look reveals that it probably also reflects the interests and occupation of its owner.

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