The Significance of the Folded Cloth in Egyptian Funerary Iconography

Lecture by Megaera Lorenz, Ph.D.

  • 5:00 p.m.Illinois
  • The Oriental Institute of the University of ChicagoLaSalle Banks Room,
    Oriental Institute, Lower Level
    1155 E 58th St
    Chicago, IL 60637
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Beginning as early as the 4th Dynasty, men (and, less commonly, women) were frequently depicted holding a folded bolt of white cloth, typically in the context of non-royal funerary monuments. While Egyptologists have traditionally interpreted the folded cloth as a symbol of rank or office, I hypothesize that it signified the deceased status of its holder. In addition to the obvious associations with mummification, white linen was also an important component in the ritual care of the divine images of the Egyptian gods. In both cases, the act of shrouding the figure in cloth was intended to provide protection and facilitate rebirth. The folded cloth in funerary representations may have acted as a visual shorthand for the wrapping or shrouding of the deceased person without explicitly depicting them as a mummiform or Osiride figure.


About the Speaker

Megaera Lorenz received her PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago in 2017. She has taught courses on ancient Egyptian language, history, and art and architecture at the University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago, and has participated in fieldwork in Egypt and Sudan. Currently, she is preparing her dissertation, “The Role of Male Royal Offspring in 18th Dynasty Egypt,” for publication as a monograph.


Special Chapter Fundraiser Book Raffle

Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers
by Amelia B. Edwards
(New York, 1892)

Amelia Edwards was the patron of archaeologist Flinders Petrie and the founder of the Egypt Exploration Fund (now Society). Her books, 1000 Miles Up the Nile and Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers, were enormously popular and influential, bringing Egyptology to the public and alerting the world to the importance of preserving the ancient monuments.
This book is in nearly perfect condition, with stamped fabric cover and gilded top edge. The text is a series of Edward’s popular lectures that she gave on her world tour, included during her visit to Chicago in 1890.
The book has many fascinating illustrations.
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