The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation Distinguished Lecture in Egyptology
At the gate of the ancestors: saint cults and the politics of the past at Abydos

Friday 10 July 2015,
18.00–19.00
BP Lecture Theatre
Tickets £25
Members/Concessions £20
Colloquium £50, concessions £30 Sackler lecture and reception £25, concessions £20 Joint ticket (Sackler lecture and colloquium) £65, concessions £40, undergraduate and postgraduate students (UK universities) £20 Concessions are British Museum Members, Egypt Exploration Society members, British Egyptian Society members, and Sudan Archaeological Research Society members

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The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation Distinguished Lecture in Egyptology 2015 will be held in conjunction with the annual Egyptological colloquium.

The lecture will be presented by Janet Richards, University of Michigan, USA.

The assignment of enhanced status and supernatural power to certain individuals as mediators between other humans and the divine was, and is, a practice spanning the globe. Made more powerful by context, saints are touchstones of place-bound memory for local populations. They and their shrines can also be powerfully mobilised as sources of legitimation for national rulers, often through a rhetoric of ruins and restoration.

In the Egyptian Nile Valley the genesis of such cults lay in the late 3rd millennium BC, in the climate of political crisis, social transformation and religious change that characterised the end of the Old Kingdom. Fieldwork in the Middle Cemetery at Abydos and collections research in the British Museum has led to the discovery of a previously unsuspected saint cult at Abydos honouring the 6th Dynasty official Idy. Initiated at Idy’s tomb before the First Intermediate Period, the complex attracted royal support during Intef III's reign, materialised in the construction of a large adjacent cult hall. Dedications here persisted throughout the 12th and 13th Dynasties, and evidence indicates that memory of the ancestor Idy still resonated with local residents, centuries later in the 18th Dynasty.

This lecture will explore the dimensions of the saint cult phenomenon as it played out at Abydos, contextualising Idy within the broader scope of activities and beliefs around Osiris in town, temple and necropolis, within Senwosret III’s reconfiguration of the ceremonial map, and among the living people who actively inhabited these landscapes.

Colloquium £50, concessions £30
Sackler lecture and reception £25, concessions £20
Joint ticket (Sackler lecture and colloquium) £65, concessions £40, undergraduate and postgraduate students (UK universities) £20
Concessions are British Museum Members, Egypt Exploration Society members, British Egyptian Society members, and Sudan Archaeological Research Society members


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View across the Abydos landscape