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When Pharaoh Turned the Landscape into a Stela: Royal Living-Rock Monuments at the Edges of the Egyptian World

Jen Thum
Near Eastern Archaeology
Vol. 79, No. 2 (June 2016), pp. 68-77
DOI: 10.5615/neareastarch.79.2.0068
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5615/neareastarch.79.2.0068
Page Count: 10
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When Pharaoh Turned the Landscape into a Stela: Royal Living-Rock Monuments at the Edges of the Egyptian World
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Abstract

The Egyptian view of the natural world is well understood: the landscape, whose elements were deified and personified, was viewed as an active and influential force on daily life. However, scholars have yet to fully consider the ideological and political functions of royal monuments carved directly into the landscape. There are, in fact, many cases where Egypt's kings chose not to erect monuments in order to make official statements, but instead to inscribe their messages directly into the landscape, on what we call “living rock.” Many royal living-rock stelae appear to have been commissioned as a strategy for the affirmation, control, and surveillance of Egypt's peripheries during times of territorial expansion.

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