The American Research Center in Eygpt

LECTURE: Mythology and Iconography of Divine Kingship in Ancient Egypt

LECTURE: Mythology and Iconography of Divine Kingship in Ancient Egypt

LECTURE: Mythology and Iconography of Divine Kingship in Ancient Egypt

Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 6:00pm

Lanny Bell

Dr. Lanny Bell

Chapter: New York, in collaboration with the Archaeology Committee of the National Arts Club Lecture, The National Arts Club

Speaker: Dr. Lanny Bell, Associate Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Chicago and a Visiting Researcher in Egyptology at Brown University (to be introduced by Michele A.F. Kidwell, Chairperson, Archaeology Committee of The National Arts Club).

Location: The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, N. Y.


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Enjoy a reception of punch and cookies. Dinner available (*Cash Only & must RSVP dinner reservations by Monday, March 26th)

Description: Divine kingship was one of the fundamental tenets of ancient Egyptian religion. In order to begin to appreciate the doctrine of the king’s divinity, we must project ourselves into the world of the ancient Egyptians and examine their beliefs from within their own cultural perspective. By the time of the New Kingdom (1570-1070 BCE), the dogma of divine kingship exhibited a high degree of sophistication. A solar incarnation, the Egyptian king ruled as the Sun, manifesting its powers; and when he died, his divine spirit rejoined the Sun, while his transfigured body was buried in a tomb where the drama of the sun’s nightly rebirth was reenacted. This lecture investigates several symbolic representations of the king’s divinity.

Philip Arrhidaios Karnak

Philip Arrhidaios at Karnak depicts the introduction and reception of the king into the presence of his divine father (Amun-Re) for induction to renewed kingship (by the god's laying on of hands), symbolized in his rebirth as a baby at the breast of Amunet (a consort of Amun).

The king was the physical offspring of the Creator by a human woman—a queen who became the Mother of God. Essentially, there were always two kings on the Throne of Horus at the same time. First there was the mortal king, who had gained control of the throne and ruled from it on behalf of humankind; as High Priest, he made offerings to the gods for his subjects’ sake. Then there was the abstract King, a theological conception and political symbol, who was regarded as the living incarnation of immortal Kingship; as heir and successor to the gods on earth, he was the recipient of his own offerings. Normally, these two aspects of divine kingship were represented in a single god-man, a hybrid being with two natures—uniquely and ideally suited to be the Intermediary between the human and divine worlds.

Tut Trampling Sphinx Redo1

Tut as a Trampling Sphinx

A special appendix considers the possible implications of the iconography of several powerful queens (Tiye, Nefertiti, Ankhesenamun, Mut-Tuy, Nefertari) for their roles as female co-equal partners with their husbands in the performance of ritual acts.

About the Speaker: Lanny Bell received his BA in Egyptology from the University of Chicago (1963) and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (1977). He has taught Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania (1965-77), the University of Chicago (1978-96), and Brown University (1997-2007). He retired from the University of Chicago in 1996 to become an Independent Scholar. He is currently an Associate Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Chicago and a Visiting Researcher in Egyptology at Brown University.

His areas of specialization are divine kingship, the temples of Thebes, and epigraphy. He has directed 17 field seasons for the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (The Theban Tomb Project: 1967-74) and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute (The Epigraphic Survey: 1978-89). He lectures widely: he has been a traveling lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America (since 1971), and has lectured for many Egyptian tours (since 1973—his 61st tour is scheduled for November of 2012).

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