Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, April 06, 2009

Just a couple of thoughts from recent posts ...

1) Dr Hawass reported the watercourse he discovered alongside KV8 as there to divert water from tombs, "In the area in the cliffs between the tombs of Ramesses II and Merenptah, Hawass and his team have found a man-made drainage channel that probably helped prevent the flooding of the royal tombs in the vicinity." I repeated that in my own article without thought but upon reflection there is another potential explanation.

Purification by washing was an important part of Egyptian religous life, which is why there is a sacred lake at temples liek Karnak and Denderah. Do we know enough about burial practices to know whether washing was also a feature of the burial ceremonies? What I'm wondering whether the primary purpose of the watercourse may not have been flood relief but creating a scared pool within the Valley of the Kings itself.

2) I'd also like to return to the ostracon which mentioned the tomb of Isisnofret (which is giving people troubles btw then they try to put the dimensions on to a map so any thoughts would be appreciated). When I stop to think about it, it's a strange way to record the location of tombs. It doesn't seem that way to us because we are used to the ideas of triangulation and understand how many points/distances are needed to locate a point. However, if one didn't appreciate triangulation, finding a location from the directions in the ostracon would be difficult. It makes me wonder whether it is possible that the priests had more understanding of geometry than is commonly understood, which they could also have used in their construction projects.

As I say, merely the musings of an amateur Egyptologist but one thing I have learned is that those at a distance from a field have value in asking dumb questions which can lead to new ways of thinking about things. Sometimes not being conditioned by the orthodoxy of a field is advantageous.


tim said...

Hi Kate

I am in total agreement the amateur has value and asking the "stupid" question has brought about many discoveries unfortunately there are snobs in all fields.

Brian Miller said...

interesting speculations.

Geoff Carter said...

Your point about the watercourse is important; often in the past, as today, there is no single explanation for something, they serve a variety of functions, and may embody several different ideas and motivations. Quite apart from its ritual importance, water, and its management are important issue on any building site, it is required in significant quantities for mixing plasters for example, as well as for sustaining the work force.

When the ostracon was written the layout of the valley in terms of pathways, and hence peoples’ perception of its geography may have been different.

Anonymous said...

Climatically rain was so scarce in the VOK that this is almost certainly water diversion measures to protect the tombs, The purification/ablution measures you rightly refer to will have taken place long before this final ritual entombing of the wrapped/coffined mummy. If ceremonial ablutions did play a part in this final part of this enactment it will have been brought in the type of large pottery vessels you see being ieced together again. Captain sensible


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