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Title: Writing, 'art', and society : a contextual archaeology of the inscribed labels of late predynastic-early dynastic Egypt
Author: Piquette, Kathryn Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0001 3491 7747
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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The largest corpus of the earliest scriptorial material from Egypt comprises over 433 small, perforated labels of the period c. 3300/3100-c. 2800/2770 BCE, from Abydos (373 labels) and six other cemetery sites in the Nile Valley. As traditional sources for Egyptian philology, these objects are not typically studied for their artefactual or material qualities. Yet, script and image are products of a range of technological intentions, actions and transformations in both their production and use. Fundamental ambiguities in philological readings warrant a more cautious and holistic approach than previously taken to this material. My research aims are to understand how the inscribed labels were materially and graphically constructed through embodied technological practices and how these features informed and re-informed making and use in the negotiation of certain social relationships. My methodological framework directs analysis to three areas: material properties of the labels, image composition, and archaeological context. A particular innovation is the application of the software program ATLAS.ti for detailed analysis of imagery. ATLAS.ti facilitates the grounding of analysis in the objects, with tools to manage graphic files, and to explore data systematically. Questions concerning how the materiality of the labels availed or constrained embodied engagement of makers and consumers have also been explored through experimental archaeology. For my theoretical basis, I draw particularly upon the work of sociologists Anthony Giddens and Etienne Wenger in order to understand the relationship between the inscribed labels and social practice. Analysis of the archaeological context focuses on inter- and intra-site distribution and on isolating the more secure contexts and associations. Study of material properties and techniques illustrates the material embeddedness of imagery. The visual repertoire is presented and discussed, followed by a detailed analysis of image distribution, organisation and associations. Patterning reveals types of compositional principles employed and how these were transformed and negotiated by label-composers across time and space. These results are also considered within the context of contemporary visual culture, and the broader social historical context of early Egyptian state formation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available