Sacred Vision at Saqqara: Reimagining the sensorium of the dead at an ancient Egyptian necropolis in 3D

Encina Commons archway
Tue April 30th 2024, 12:00pm
Event Sponsor
Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis
Stanford Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) in Wallenberg 433A

About the Event

This workshop introduces one of the most effective forms of ritual communication and connection in ancient Egyptian culture which took place through human sight. Seeing was a reciprocal act, with the eye an active agent that reached out—a concept likely stemming from the myth of the powerful ‘divine eye’. In looking upon the god (or the king in his divine form), a person interacted with him or her, benefited from their divine presence, and could even be healed by this vision, and thus prayers to ‘see the god’ were repeated in a variety of types of texts. The effect of such sacred vision (and other sensory experiences) was key for both the living and the dead. In this talk, I will argue that the necropolis landscape of Saqqara was structured to promote ritual sight lines and provide the deceased with eternal views of the god or king. For this study, I use primary source texts and artistic depictions related to funerary and mortuary cult events at the site of Saqqara, as well as data gleaned from a 3D GIS model of the site that visualises physical and material elements of the cemetery frequently indiscernible today. 

About the Speaker

Elaine A. Sullivan (M.A. and Ph.D. in Egyptian Art and Archaeology from Johns Hopkins University) is an Egyptologist and a Digital Humanist whose work focuses on applying new technologies to ancient cultural materials.

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