In this special guest post, Abigail Taylor discusses her work on the royal images of the 25th Dynasty Nubian rulers of Egypt
"Hello everyone, my name is Abigail Taylor and I am a PhD student at Durham University, where I am being kindly supported in my study by Maney Publishing. My research investigates the use and abuse of images of the royal family in the 25th Dynasty and early Napatan period in Egypt and Nubia.
During the 8th Century BC Egypt came under the control of its southern neighbours from Nubia, a land seen traditionally as a rival and enemy, to be ruled by a line of kings as the 25th Dynasty for about a century. Following a number of brutal military campaigns backed by the Assyrian Empire, the Nubian kings were pushed out of Egypt and a new ruling house based in the Delta capital of Sais rose to power. In the following years many of the images and inscriptions of the 25th Dynasty Pharaohs were subjected to acts of iconoclasm and damnatio memoriae, with later parties defacing, attacking and mutilating representations of the Nubian kings.
Such actions were a common way to symbolically attack and seek to discredit a rival in Ancient Egypt, and were a political message to taint the memory of the old and highlight the power of the new regime. Iconoclasm is usually an action taken against religious icons, images and monuments that are motivated by political and religious change. Damnatio memoriae is also a destructive technique commonly used against statues, images and monuments to publicly attack images and send a powerful message about new political realities, to ritually punish, express power, and is always an expression of the current social and political feeling of the time.
In my project I am seeking to examine the large corpus of royal imagery for these Nubian kings, to identify the treatments they have been subjected to in later years, in order to ascertain the nature of the actions taken against them following their removal from rule. I hope that this work will enable me to draw conclusions that will further understanding of how the political, economic and social situations between these two respective territories could have influenced actions and attitudes towards royal imagery in general, and in particular towards these Nubian rulers who were of a foreign origin.
Echoes in modern history
Cases of image destruction are not only limited to antiquity. We are constantly surrounded by the physical evidence of the maiming of images, caught in the crossfire as they clash with different powers and ideologies, who use the destruction of an image to express ideological and political messages. In recent years we have seen various examples come to light across news channels the world over. An image I will never forget was when the troops toppled Saddam Hussein's statue during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and most recently in 2015 we have also witnessed evidence for Assyrian statues being smashed at the Mosul Museum and the destruction of the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Khorsabad, Nimrud and Hatra by aggressors in the Middle East. Modern actions and events can be seen to have precedents and echoes throughout history, and this is something that in my opinion makes archaeology a discipline and subject that is so relevant and important in unraveling the history of human cultures."
Durham University is currently accepting applications for the 2015 scholarship, which includes full fees for three years and an annual £3,000 stipend. Ideal candidates will be undertaking doctoral studies in the archaeology of the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean. Interested applicants should apply no later than June 30th.
For more information, please see our press release >