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Title: Dream books in ancient Egypt : the evolution of a genre from the New Kingdom to the Roman period, with the edition of an unpublished demotic dream book
Author: Prada, Luigi
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 0408
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis is a study of dream books from ancient Egypt, that is, manuals used for the practice of oneiromancy (the branch of divination dealing with the interpretation of dreams). Ancient Egyptian dream books are attested from approximately the XIII century BC (during the New Kingdom's XIX dynasty) through to the III century AD, during the Roman rule of Egypt. They are found in several languages (Egyptian and Greek) and scripts (in the case of Egyptian, both hieratic and demotic), with the vast majority of those surviving being written in demotic Egyptian. Many of these primary sources still remain unpublished. This thesis offers a complete panoramic of this corpus, inclusive of both published and unpublished material, highlighting and proving the diachronic evolution of the oneirocritic genre that connects all these texts over a period of approximately a millennium and a half. Chapter I offers a detailed introduction to the thesis' topic, contents, and structure. Chapter II discusses the earliest known dream books, written in hieratic. Chapter III focuses on the largest section of the corpus, that of the demotic dream books, which span from the IV century BC to the III century AD. Chapter IV discusses the only known specimen of a Greek dream book that is extant from ancient Egypt, dating to the III century AD. Chapter V discusses a group of texts of doubtful identification (ca. IV century BC-III century AD), which may be dream books. Most of them certainly belong to divinatory manuals, but the identification of their precise genre remains uncertain. Chapter VI deals with a number of texts (ca. II century BC-III century AD) that have erroneously been identified in previous scholarship as dream books. Chapter VII contains the analysis of an unpublished demotic dream book from the II-III century AD, which survives in multiple copies. Finally, chapter VIII contains an overview of the main traits and of the evolution of the oneirocritic genre in ancient Egypt, as well as an outline of plans for future research concerning this corpus. A second volume containing a full text edition of the unpublished dream book discussed in chapter VII accompanies the thesis. A third volume contains unpublished images of several of the manuscripts discussed in the first and second volumes.
Supervisor: Smith, Mark Sponsor: Scatcherd European Scholarship ; Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available