Brigitte Balanda

Development of Royal Funerary Traditions along the Middle Nile Valley during the Napatan Period

Napatan dynasty of rulers in the Middle Nile Valley (1st millennium BC) this thesis examines the development of royal funerary traditions. These tombs show strong influence by Egyptian traditions of the same period, and the core questions of the thesis are centered on whether this Egyptianness shows a total adoption of apparently foreign funerary customs and beliefs or whether, and to which extent, Egyptian traits were adopted to express indigenous Nubian funerary traditions. This question is approached by a discussion of when and how apparently pure Egyptian traditions became indiginised in the Middle Nile Valley, and how they were adapted to a different cultural environment, where they remained characteristic for the Meroitic state, the sucessor of the kingdom of Napata.

A detailed study of the scenes and spells on the tomb walls and examination of their Egyptian roots serves to isolate non-Egyptian elements, which in turn should indicate Nubian elements. The study of the tomb walls is complemented by an analysis of grave goods, especially funerary statuettes, exclusive to royal burials, and amulets, which are best suited to highlight differences between royal funerary customs and beliefs and those of commoners. The results of this analysis indicate that the higher degree of Egyptianisation of Napatan elites is only an apparent one. Access to knowledge and writing, and greater command of economic resources facilitated the grander expression of funerary traditions in elite burials. The beliefs expressed in these traditions, however, seem to have been shared by all levels of society.


 Educational background

  • BA Egyptian Archaeology, UCL 2005
  • MA Research Methods in Archaeology, UCL 2006
  • "Napatan Period Funerary Amulets – Interpreting the 'Egyptianisation' of Beliefs", paper presented at the 11th International Conference for Meroitic Studies, Vienna, Sept. 1st-4th 2008 (forthcoming)
  • "Protecting the Mummy – A Reinterpretation of Shabtis in Napatan Funerary Customs", paper presented at the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies, London, Aug.1st-6th 2010 (forthcoming)
  • file name:Ku.5 antechamber S-wall center Caption: Decoration in the antechamber of the tomb of Queen Qalhata, Ku.5
  • : Senkamanisken in BM Caption: Some shabtis of King Senkamanisken on display in the British Museum

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