Sunday, March 19, 2017

Berkeley NES Talk April 6: Signs of Broken Textuality in Ancient Egyptian Funerary Papyri

Signs of Broken Textuality
in Ancient Egyptian Funerary Papyri

Niv Allon, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thursday, April 6, 3 pm
373 Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

A 72 feet long papyrus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains an important copy of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (MMA 35.9.20a–w). Buried with the deceased, its spells are intended to aid in the afterlife, providing crucial knowledge about the netherworld and the dangers that await within it. Despite its aim and its attention to details, the manuscript contains numerous lacunae, especially in the first columns of the text. In fact, the beginning of the text is left entirely blank, starting on the second column mid-sentence and mid-spell. Analyzing these lacunae and similar practices that index loss this paper will explore notions of the completed text and discuss issues relating to the representations of textual loss in ancient and modern times in textual editions as well as in museums.

Niv Allon is an Assistant Curator in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He received his PhD in Egyptology from Yale University in 2014 and an MA in Biblical Studies from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in 2008. He co-authored a book with Hanna Navratilova on ancient Egyptian Scribes, currently in press.
Sponsored by the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri and the Department of Near Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley
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