Royal Children as Royal Ancestors


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This lecture aims to define how Egyptian royal children evolved in their role as Royal Ancestors when presented as such in private monuments of the New Kingdom. Research on the Royal Ancestors (also quoted in certain contexts as ‘Lords of the West’ or ‘Lords of Eternity’) has been exhaustive, as their occurrence in monuments has been widely recorded and documented. These studies have focused on the ancestors as a group, as well as on sub-groups and on individual figures (eg. “royal sons of the 18th Dynasty”, “the Ahmosids”, “Amenhotep I”), moving across geographical and/or chronological contexts (eg. “Deir el Medina” or “the Ramesside Period”). In doing so, research has come a long way in defining the social conditions and historical phenomena that triggered certain cultic and thematic developments. Building on this work, I aim to consider the documented images of royal sons and daughters as Royal Ancestors through a content analysis model developed during my Ph.D. research on New Kingdom royal children. This model demonstrates that royal children, shown as living human beings in both royal and non-royal contexts, were ascribed to fit a number of ideal images traceable to mythical prototypes (mythologems) that were then deployed as propaganda tools. Using this framework, I will now attempt to ascribe royal children depicted as Royal Ancestors to mythologems and explore whether there are any parallels with contemporary developments in the iconography of royal children in other contexts. In doing so, this study focuses on defining various cross-contextual influences and phenomena, such as the archaism often seen in representations of gods and venerable figures.

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