Institute of Archaeology


Atena Ungureanu

Atena Ungureanu

The Restoration of Ancient Egypt - Continuity and Reinvention in Late Period Elite Tomb Scenes

Atena Ungureanu Profile

Email: atena.ungureanu@ucl.ac.uk
Section: World Archaeology


The Restoration of Ancient Egypt - Continuity and Reinvention in Late Period Elite Tomb Scenes

This PhD thesis offers a new, agency-based approach to the study of archaism in the Late Period by investigating on a comparative basis the archaizing features in elite tomb iconography. It aims to answer the question 'Was the choice of archaizing scenes in Late Period elite tombs dictated primarily by the availability of traditional iconography or by ideological factors?'

An overview of the terminology used by modern scholars in defining archaism is much needed, due to a lack of a broader discussion in Egyptology about how the past is being used as a resource. This thesis will develop a theoretically informed framework for the use of different terms, as well as investigate the relationship between agency and structure. An agency-based approach will contest the mainstream uses of the term 'archaism' and will consider the role of the tomb owner in creating meaning through the choice of archaizing scenes and how this related to the use and re-use of traditional iconography. The research will also consider the variety of roles at play in agency, such as the commissioner/beneficiary, the developers and perpetuators of the concepts and the executors.

Research in archaism has so far focused on structure, by assessing as primary factors religious concepts, the power of the king, and the ideology ordering society, without viewing the ancient Egyptians as active participants and drivers of change. However, evidence shows that peer association, reliance on or preference for a particular atelier, as well as drawing inspiration from a particular tomb also played an important role. This thesis will clarify the balance between available resources and their adaptation, and consider to which extent the choice of scene was influenced more by adherence to traditional iconography or by the meaning ascribed to it. It will do so by reviewing comparatively the decoration of the Theban Tombs 34, 36 and 279, LG81 at Giza, the tomb of Bakenrenef at Memphis and that of Baennentiu at Bahariya Oasis.


    • BSc, Egyptian Tourism Guidance, October 6 University in Egypt, 2005
    • MA, Egyptian Archaeology, UCL, 2010