Alicia Cunningham-Bryant

  • Fellowship Dates 2011-2011
  • Research Topic Engraved in Stone: The Role of Meroitic Offering Tables and their Iconography in Meroitic Funerary Religion
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate Yale University

Although Greco-Roman Egypt has received more scholarly attention, the contemporaneous Meroitic civilization of Nubia deserves recognition as an important culture in the history of North Africa and the greater Eastern Mediterranean world. Following the halcyon days of the Nubian 25th dynasty’s domination of the Egyptian Nile Valley, the Delta rulers of the 26th (Saïte) dynasty banished their former overlords to Nubia. Forever after restricted to the territories south of the First Cataract, the successors of the exiled Nubian king, Tanwetamani, maintained a Nubian form of pharaonic culture south of Egypt, increasingly integrating and giving artistic and epigraphic expression to more local, “African” culture. The defining moment of the post-expulsion Nubian civilization in the sixth century BCE was the movement of the capital from Napata to Meroe. Meroitic history and culture are excluded from most Egyptological discussions largely due to the abstruse nature of the Meroitic language and the dearth of surviving texts, which are either short funerary monuments or brief graffiti. As a result, discussions of Meroitic iconography and ideology require extensive use of archaeological finds in conjunction with sources from Egyptian and Greco-Roman archaeological and epigraphic sources to position Meroitic culture, and specifically funerary religion, in its socio-historical context.

This research completes a database of Meroitic offering tables, which serve as an ideal lens to view and assemble disparate evidence that allow for the interpretation and elucidation of Meroitic funerary religion. It analyzes and documents offering tables in the Egyptian Museum collection and adds them to those recorded from the Boston Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum and the Neues Ӓgyptisches Museums. Analyzing textual elements, decorative attributes, geographic location and diachronic placement of Meroitic offering tables provides a more complete understanding of Meroitic funerary religion as a whole and its place within the Egyptian funerary tradition.

TopicsArchaeology, Art History, Epigraphy, ReligionThemeArchaeological Sites, Gods & Goddesses, ReligionHistoric PeriodPtolemaic, RomanLocationNubia, Upper Egypt


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