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Georgia Barker & Sophie Harris

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 8 October 2019 (Week 9), 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


Georgia Barker | PhD candidate, Macquarie University

Animate Decoration in the Burial Chamber: A Comparative Study of Funerary Models and Wall Scenes

The ancient Egyptians believed that objects and people depicted in funerary artistic representations would magically come into existence and provide for the tomb owner in the afterlife. The absence of animate decoration in the burial chamber, therefore, has long been understood as a means to protect the deceased from any potential harm posed by living creatures. Animate figures first appeared in the wall scenes of substructures during late Dynasty 5, but were quickly replaced by portrayals of food and drink. Towards the end of the Old Kingdom and in the First Intermediate Period, some hieroglyphic signs of humans and animals were even truncated or eliminated. Funerary models, conversely, were included in burial chambers for a more expansive time period, from late Dynasty 6 to the end of the Middle Kingdom, even though they too depicted people from everyday life. If it was believed that these statuettes would likewise come to life and serve the deceased for eternity, why would they be included in the substructure alongside the body for a considerably longer period than animate wall scenes? This paper explores the apparent contradiction by presenting the differing developments and surrounding ideology of each medium. Various proposals are suggested, with the themes represented by the artworks, the role of accompanying text, and recently discovered scenes in the burial chambers of Baqet I and Baqet II at Beni Hassan all being addressed.

Sophie Harris | PhD candidate, Macquarie University

Lost in Metaphor: the Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP) and its benefits for translating ancient Egyptian texts

In preparing a translation of The Maxims of Ptahhotep for my doctoral thesis, I have become increasingly aware of the problems associated with translating figurative language. Translators, whether for technical-philological or philosophical reasons, gravitate towards rendering figurative expressions in idiomatic ways that, as Vinson (2014: 306) notes, “[bleach] away the colour of the Egyptian original”. Since figurative language serves an important rhetorical role – metaphors are used persuasively to convey core evaluations and ideologies that are intimately connected to plot structure – a crucial point that has been disregarded by the recent cognitive semantic interest in metaphor. Therefore, idiomatic translations of metaphoric passages not only erase any evidence that a passage was originally metaphoric but in addition, impoverishes the ancient author’s rhetoric.

Moreover, while Sokolova’s statement that literary works and their metaphorical elements cannot be examined and analysed by standard methods alone is correct (2014: 101), she does not advocate an alternative method for producing more accurate translations of metaphoric passages beyond close reading. It is the aim of this paper to present the Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP), formulated by the Pragglejaz Group (2007), as an alternative translation method. I will illustrate how MIP works and its benefits through its application to several passages from The Maxims of Ptahhotep.

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Departmental Research Seminar

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.