Let His Name Go Forth: A Micro-historical Study of Kagemni’s veneration in Saqqara


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Vizier Kagemni Memi is often grouped among the ‘saints’ of the Old Kingdom (e.g., Krämer 2019; Troche 2015; Daoud 2005, 81; Silverman 1995, 82; Martin-Pardey 1980, 290), even though it is acknowledged that we lack clear emic, ancient Egyptian terminology to distinguish the material evidence of his cult from that of the revered dead during the Old Kingdom (Hamilton 2014; cf. Franke 1994, 131–4; Fischer 1965, 52). Rather than seeking global comparisons, this paper offers a micro-historical approach to the material evidence of Kagemni’s veneration in Saqqara, including from his own kingroup, specifically among the community buried in the Teti Pyramid Cemetery. The need for locality-specific, context-sensitive studies of such cults has been especially emphasized by Kahl (2012, 188). From commemorative funerary monuments erected by his son Merpepy, and other people buried in the vicinity of his mastaba, to the graffiti left by cult-priests, scribes, and other visitors, etched upon the interior walls of his mastaba chapel, and much later the so-called ‘Teaching for Kagemni’ (P. Prisse), this paper demonstrates that the local response to Kagemni’s memory shifted through time. In the inscriptions on the exterior walls of his mastaba, Kagemni expressed the wish to be imakhu (honoured) in the sight of other people. Accordingly, Kagemni's memory and name were preserved and elevated through commemorative activities attested at Saqqara, belonging to those who appealed to him as an ‘excellent and equipped akh (spirit)’ of their community.

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