Dancing for Hathor: Nubian Women as Priestesses

Lecture by Dr. Solange Ashby, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer Philosophy & Religion

  • 6:15 p.m.New England (Boston)
  • Boston UniversityCollege of Arts and Sciences Building
    Room 313
    685-725 Comm Ave.
    Boston, MA 02215
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Nubian women appear in Egyptian tomb and temple paintings as dancers for the goddess Hathor from the Middle Kingdom (2100-1900 BCE) through the Roman period (30 BCE-395 CE).  These women performed wearing brightly colored leather skirts, cowrie shell belts, and displaying tattoos on their breasts, abdomens, and thighs. Recently, several tattooed, mummified female bodies have been excavated from the C-Group Nubian cemetery at Hierakonpolis, in Egypt. The dot and dash, lozenge-shaped tattoos found on those women are very similar to tattoos found on contemporaneous priestesses of Hathor buried at the royal funerary complex of the Middle Kingdom ruler, Mentuhotep II (2061-2010 BCE). 

Solange Ashby received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago with a specialization in Nubian language and religion. She is a fellow at Catholic University’s Institute of Christian Oriental Research. Her book, Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae, will be released shortly.