Ritual in the 25th Dynasty: or, how to worship Amun like a Kushite

Lecture by Dr. Kathryn Howley, Lila Acheson Wallace Assistant Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art

  • 5:00 p.m.Illinois
  • The Oriental Institute of the University of ChicagoLaSalle Banks Room
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The kings of the 25th Dynasty were Kushite in their cultural background, but practiced Egyptian religion. Because of this, much of the archaeological evidence from this short but vibrant period in the first millennium BC looks very Egyptian. The Kushite pharaohs built columned temples with pylon gateways and even added to the great Amun temple complex of Karnak, as had all of the great Egyptian pharaohs before them. But they were Kushite, not Egyptian, and came from their own distinctive culture: just because the Kushites built like Egyptians, doesn’t mean they also behaved like Egyptians, giving up all trace of their own customs. Behavior, however, can be challenging to trace in the archaeological record.

This talk will examine two important changes to Egyptian religious practice that can be seen in both Egypt and Nubia during the 25th Dynasty – the shrinking size of temple offerings, and changing architectural plans – to argue that mobility and portability became crucial to 25th Dynasty ritual. In other words, worshippers moved more and carried things with them! These changes reveal that the Kushite kings were not passive receivers of Egyptian belief, but that their cultural background had a profound impact on the practice of Egyptian religion.