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MORTEXVAR

Earlier Ancient Egyptian Mortuary Texts Variability

MORTEXVAR looks into the Ancient Egyptian Pyramid and Coffin Texts (c 2350-1550 BC), and other related materials, for changes in the language, spellings, texts, beliefs, material culture, social data, and historical context.

The photograph is the courtesy of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project

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RESEARCH

The interdisciplinary (philology, linguistics, graphemics and cultural studies) 4-year project (July 2019 – June 2023) The Earlier Ancient Egyptian Mortuary Texts Variability (MORTEXVAR) proposes a nuanced appraisal of the construction and function of the mortuary texts from Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt (2350-1550 BC) using ‛variability’ as an explanatory concept and an electronic-geared corpus-driven approach. It focuses on central cultural issues concerning the ritual context, archaeological trace, ideological interpretation, socio-cultural function and philological text-forming and transmission of the texts devoted to ensuring a post-mortem activity for the deceased from ancient Egyptian elite.

Research questions concentrate on two main axes:

  • How were earlier ancient Egyptian mortuary texts shaped out the way they are? Was there a core of texts from one focus or multiple foci that implemented modifications and/or innovations depending on the cultural changes through time and space?

  • How can this materialize in the texts and their material context? How can we properly value the weight of tradition and innovation in the process of creating and transmitting these texts?

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TRANSFORMATION AND TRANSFIGURATION

MORTEXVAR explores the concept of ‛variability’ in two groups of fundamental texts concerning the post-mortem activity of the ancient Egyptian elite: the so-called transformation spells and transfiguration spells. This is the first time that this concept has been addressed in this manner.

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VARIABILITY

MORTEXVAX focuses on changes, which are inherently hard to grasp, in that they can adopt many shapes, from mere mistakes to the creation of new traditions, through reinterpretations of different degrees (versions, pastiches, repetitions, omissions...). Furthermore, to the modern observer, these changes appear intertwined within more than one "sphere", including writing, language, textual units and artefacts.

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TEXTS

MORTEXVAR is mainly concerned with changes occurring in the mainstream mortuary texts of the early stages of ancient Egypt, the so-called Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts. Other related texts, including the so-called Book of the Dead or the Letters to the Dead, will be on the rear mirror as well.

Photographs are the courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

TEAM

CARLOS GRACIA ZAMACONA

Project director

Assistant Professor of Egyptology, Universidad de Alcalá, Madrid.

Research interests: Empirical linguistics, graphemics, and text analysis. Old and Middle Kingdom mortuary texts.

PhD in Egyptology and Linguistics at École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, co-leader of the Egygraph project (with Angela McDonald), epigrapher for the Middle Kingdom Theban Project, correspondant étranger for the UMR 8546 CNRS-ENS, Archéologie et Philologie d’Orient et d’Occident (AorOc), Paris,  tutor of Ancient Studies (Egyptology) at the University of Glasgow, and fellow of the Academia de España at Rome.

DOCTORAL FELLOW

Now recruiting (until 19/10/2019)

Applications are welcome for one 3-year fellowship leading to a PhD at Universidad de Alcalá (Madrid, Spain) to begin on January 2020 in all subjects related to the concept ‛variability’ in the Pyramid and Coffin Texts, including linguistics, graphemics, text studies, and material culture.

The salary is 25,468.89 € gross per year.

How to apply

Submit a pdf dossier with letter of motivation and updated CV to carlos.gracia@uah.es, or use the link below.

Informal inquiries to the project director: Carlos Gracia Zamacona (carlos.gracia@uah.es).

 

COLLABORATORS

GERSANDE ESCHENBRENNER-DIEMER

Postdoctoral researcher, Universidad de Jaén.
Doctor in Egyptology from Lyon 2 University (France), Gersande Eschenbrenner Diemer is Postdoctoral fellow at Universidad de Jaén (Spain) and research associate at Laboratoire ArScAn UMR 7041 Nanterre (France).
She specializes in the study of woodcraft: from the artefact production to the economic, religious and social wood networks.
She has been Marie-Curie fellow at the Institute of Archaeology of the University College of London (2016-2018) developing a research project around woodcraft as societal tracer through a global approach. Since 2014, she is a member of the archaeological missions of Qubbet el-Hawa (Aswan), Deir el-Medina (Luxor) and Islamic Cairo, Fustat (Cairo) for the study of wooden furniture and identification of production workshops.

GIANLUCA MINIACI

Professor of Egyptology, Università di Pisa.
Doctor in Egyptology from the University of Pisa, Gianluca Miniaci is Associate Professor in Egyptology at the same university, director of the archaeological mission to Zawyet el-Maiyitin (Menya, Egypt), deputy-director of the University of Pisa excavation at Thebes, in the cemetery of Dra Abu el-Naga. He is editor-in-chief of the international series Middle Kingdom Studies (Golden House Publications, London), of the Journal of Egyptian History (Brill, Leiden), and of the series Ancient Egypt in Context (Cambridge University Press).
He has been Marie Curie Research Fellow at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, and at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, London.
He has extensively published on the history, archaeology and the funerary culture in ancient Egypt.

ANTONIO J. MORALES

PhD in Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania, Antonio Morales is Associate Professor of Egyptology at the Seminar of Ancient History in the University of Alcalá (UAH, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid), and the Director of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project.
Previously, he was Lecturer in Egyptology at Freie Universität Berlin.
He is currently organizing an Egyptological program at the University of Alcalá, mainly focused on pharaonic history, religion, language, and culture. The new program already includes courses on Egyptian language (Middle Egyptian, hieratic, Late Egyptian), Egyptian literature, and ancient Egyptian magic and religion.
He specialises in the material philology of Old and middle Kingdom mortuary texts, and the history of the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. Among other topics, he has published extensively on the textual transmission, text orality and entextualization of the Pyramid Texts.

RUNE NYORD

Assistant Professor of Egyptology, Emory University, Atlanta.

Doctor in Egyptology from the University of Copenhagen, Rune Nyord is Assistant Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Emory University, Atlanta, editor of the ‘Egyptology’ area of the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, and external examiner for Egyptology, University of Copenhagen.

He has been Research Associate at the Ägyptologisches Seminar and SFB 980 ‘Episteme in Bewegung’, Freie Universität Berlin; and Lecturer, Research Associate (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research), and Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellow (Christ’s College) at the University of Cambridge.

He has extensively researched and published in cognitive linguistics and anthropology applied to ancient Egyptian topics such as the conception of the body, post-mortem individual identity, and visual perception.



ANDRÉAS STAUDER

Doctor in Egyptology from the Universität Basel, Andréas Stauder is Full Professor (directeur d’études) of Egyptian at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, IVe Section, Université PSL, Paris.
He is the scientific co-editor of the section ‛Language’ of the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, University of California Los Angeles. He has been the director of the Research team EA 4519 ‘Égypte ancienne: archéologie, langue, religion’ (EPHE), and of the Initiative de Recherche Interdisciplinaire Stratégique ‘Scripta-PSL: Histoire et pratiques de l’écrit’ (PSL). In Basel, he has directed the research projects ‘Materialität und Semantik komplexer Schriftsysteme’ (National Center of Competence and Research ‛eikones’, Swiss National Science Foundation & Universität Basel), and ‘The Old Egyptian Verb: Functions in Text’ (Universität Basel).
Prior to joining the EPHE, PSL, he has held a postdoctoral appointment at Universität Basel, a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago, and has been an invited lecturer at the Université de Liège.
He has published extensively on the ancient Egyptian language, the Egyptian writing system, and Middle Egyptian literature.

ZSUZSANNA VÉGH

PhD in Egyptology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Zsuzsanna Végh is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in Edinburgh as well as Tutor in Egyptology at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. She has been awarded prestigious fellowships in Germany (such as the travel grant of the German Archaeological Institute) and has been visiting scholar at the University of Oxford.
Her research focuses on ancient Egyptian religion, in particular on how a cult of a new god (Osiris) was established and integrated into the regional and interregional theological system in the Old and Middle Kingdom, how religious texts were produced, in which contexts they were used and how these contexts influenced their transmissions. She has published and presented on the topic and is currently preparing a monograph on the cult of Osiris in Abydos. She is a member of the Hungarian Archaeological Mission to Thebes, South Khokha Project and has been involved in various museum projects all over Europe (State Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, the National Museum of Scotland, and the British Museum).

 

CONTRIBUTORS

LEIRE OLABARRIA, Lecturer in Egyptology, University of Birmingham

ROBERTO DÍAZ HERNÁNDEZ, Researcher, Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität München

JÓNATAN ORTIZ GARCÍA, Researcher, Universidad de Alcalá

JOSUÉ SANTOS SAAVEDRA, Researcher, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

ANA CATARINA APOLINÀRIO DE ALMEIDA, Researcher, Universidade de Lisboa

IKER BARRIALES VALBUENA, Researcher, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

 

IMPACT

ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS

2019

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. Textos de los Ataúdes. In A.J. Morales (ed.), Cultos, mitos y prácticas mágicas en el antiguo Egipto: textos religiosos (2800 a.C. - 1000 d.C.). (57 pages)


Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. Modulating semograms: Some procedures for semantic specification and re-categorization in the Pyramid Texts and other mortuary texts. In J. Cervelló & M. Orriols (ed.), Signs, language and culture: the semograms of the Pyramid Texts between iconicity and referential reality (32 pages)


Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. Divine words in the ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts (c 2000-1500 BC). In Ch. Meccariello & J. Singletary (eds.), As it is written? Uses of sources in ancient Mediterranean Texts (SERAPHIM). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck (30 pages).


2020

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. Some remarks for a multidimensional approach to the Coffin Text unique spells. In A. Jiménez Serrano & A.J. Morales (eds.), Middle Kingdom palace culture and its echoes in the provinces (Harvard Studies in Egyptology). Leiden & Boston: Brill (30 pages).


Gracia Zamacona, Carlos.Writing sDr in the Coffin Texts. In S. Hartlepp & J. Levenson (eds.), Substitution: Narrowing or broadening of knowledge? (SFB 980 “Episteme in Bewegung”, Freie Universität Berlin) (asked for submission; 30 pages).


Forthcoming

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. On the donation formula di.(w) m Hz.wt n.t xr nsw n Aperson r Btemple: a case of diffuse ditransitive construction. Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte 89/90 (12 pages).

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. 1 monograph on the corpus of the project (2023)

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. 1 Database on the corpus (universally accessible from the internet) (2023)

ACADEMIC CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS AND TALKS

2019

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. I Taller de Estudios Interdisciplinares sobre el Antiguo Egipto (with contributions by J. Santos, J. Ortiz, L. Olabarria, I. Barriales, A.J. Morales y R. Díaz).

2019-2020

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos. Contributions to 2 peer-reviewed (inter)national conferences with publication

2022/2023

Gracia Zamacona, Carlos (with the assistance of the collaborators). International conference on the variability, and publication of the proceedings (2022/2023)

GENERAL DISSEMINATION


  • 2 public lectures at Universidad de Alcalá (2021-2022)

  • 2 seminars/lectures at high schools in the Madrid Region (2021-2022)

  • 3 tutorships of high school students (Programme 4ºESO+Empresa, Madrid Region (2020-2022)

  • Participation in the programmes “Universidad Abierta – Open Day” (Universidad de Alcalá), European Researchers’ Night and Science Week (2020-2022)

  • 1 article in a history magazine (2021)

TEACHING


  • 1 doctoral supervision (2020-2022)

  • 3 one-day seminars on text studies (2020, 2021 and 2022)

  • 1 workshop on material philology (2022)

 

GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Allen, J.P. 2004. Traits des Textes des Pyramides du Moyen Empire. In S. Bickel (ed.), D’un monde à l’autre. Cairo, 1-14.
Allen, J.P. 2006. The Egyptian Coffin Texts VIII: Middle Kingdom copies of Pyramid Texts. Chicago.
Allen, J.P. 2013. A new concordance of the Pyramid Texts. Providence.
Allen, J.P. 2015. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Atlanta
Assmann, J. 2002. Totenliturgien in den Sargtexten des Mittleren Reiches. Heidelberg.
Baines, J. 2004. Modelling sources, processes locations of early mortuary texts. In S. Bickel (ed.), D’un monde à l’autre (Cairo, 2004), 15-41.
Bickel, S. & B. Mathieu (eds.). 2004. D’un monde à l’autre: Textes des Pyramides et Textes des Sarcophages (Bibliothèque d’Étude 139). Cairo: IFAO.
Buchberger, H. 1993. Transformation und Transformat. Wiesbaden.
Buck, A. de. 1936-1961. The Egyptian Coffin Texts I-VII. Chicago.
Faulkner, R.O. 1973-1978. The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts I-III. Oxford.
Gestermann, L. 2005. Die Überlieferung ausgewählter altägyptischer Totenliteratur (“Sargtexte”) in spätzeitlichen Grabanlagen I-II. Wiesbaden.
Gracia Zamacona, C. 2013. A database for the Coffin Texts. In S. Polis et al. (eds.), Texts, Languages & Information Technology in Egyptology. Liège, 139-155.
Gracia Zamacona, C. 2020. Some remarks for a multidimensional approach to the Coffin Text unique spells. In A. Jiménez Serrano & A. Morales (eds.), Middle Kingdom Palace Culture (Harvard Studies in Egyptology, 2018), 35 pages.
Hays, H. 2012. The organization of the Pyramid Texts: typology and disposition I-II. Leiden.
Hussein, R. 2011. Notes on copies of Pyramid Text spells. In Z. Hawass (ed.), Scribe of justice. Cairo, 217-233.
Mathieu, B. 2004. La distinction entre Textes des Pyramides et Textes des Sarcophages est-elle légitime? In S. Bickel (ed.), D’un monde à l’autre. Cairo, 247-262.
Morales A. 2017. The transmission of the Pyramid Texts of Nut. Hamburg.
Morales, A. 2013. The transmission of the Pyramid Texts into the Middle Kingdom. Philadelphia.
Morales, A. 2018. Unraveling the thread. In S. Bickel (ed.), Studies in ancient Egyptian funerary literature. Leuven.
Polis, St. & B. Stasse. 2009. Pour une nouvelle philologie numérique: réflexions sur la relation texte(s) – document(s). Méthodes et Interdisciplinarité en Sciences Humaines 2: 153-177.
Schenkel, W. 1978. Das Stemma der altägyptischen Sonnenlitanei. Wiesbaden.
Tognini-Bonelli, E. 2001. Corpus linguistics at work. Amsterdam.
Trovato, P. 2014. Everything you always wanted to know about Lachmann’s method. Padova: Libreria Universitaria.
Vernus, P. 1996. La position des Textes des Sarcophages. In H. Willems (ed.), The world of the Coffin Texts. Leiden, 143-196.
Vernus, P. 2016. L’écrit et la canonicité dans la civilisation pharaonique. In K. Ryholt (ed.), Problems on canonicity and identity formation in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Copenhagen, 271-347.
Willems, H. 1988. Chests of life. Leiden.
Willems, H. (ed.). 1996. The world of the Coffin Texts (Egyptologische Uitgaven 9). Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten.
Willems, H. 1996. The Coffin of Heqata (Cairo 36418): A case study of Egyptian funerary culture of the Early Middle Kingdom (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 70). Leuven: Peeters.
Willems, H. 2007. Dayr al-Barsha I: The rock tombs of Djehutinakht (17K74/1), Khnumnakht (17K74/2) and Iha (17K74/3) (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 155). Leuven: Peeters.
Willems, H. 2014. Historical and Archaeological Aspects of Egyptian Funerary Culture: Religious Ideas and Ritual Practice in Middle Kingdom Elite Cemeteries (CHANE 73). Leiden: Brill.
Worthington, M. 2012. Principles of Akkadian textual criticism. Berlin.
Zandee, J. 1960. Death as an enemy according to Egyptian conceptions. Leiden: Brill.

 

INSTITUTIONS

 

CONTACT US

Carlos Gracia Zamacona

Facultad de Filosofía y Letras

Seminario de Historia Antigua

Calle Colegios, 2, 28801 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid (Spain)


(+34) 91 885 4460

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