New article by Harco Willems

A new article by Harco Willems has just appeared:

Willems, H., 'Die Grabkammer des Djehutinakht (I.?) in Dayr al-Barshā – methodologische Aspekte der Rekonstruktion des Ablaufs des Bestattungsrituals anhand eines neuentdeckten Beispiels.' in: A.H. Pries (ed.) Die Variation der Tradition. Modalitäten der Ritualadaption im Alten Ägypten. Akten des Internationalen Symposions vom 25.-28. November 2012 in Heidelberg (Orientalia lovaniensia analecta 240: Leuven, 2016), 133-170.


The article opens with a critique of the exclusively iconographic and textual approach to reconstructing ancient Egyptian funerary rituals. The author argues that such sources of information can only afford insight in ideas about how the ritual should be performed, but not in how this was actually done. For this, only careful analysis of patterns in archaeological find contexts can be used. Since texts and iconography never show how the last phase of the burial in the underground tomb compartments took place, this is in fact the only feasible approach. 

The article then proceeds to a detailed discussion of the burial context in a tomb that was excavated and documented at Dayr al-Barsha in 2012-2014. In this tomb, which may have belonged to the nomarch Djehutinakht I (late First Intermediate Period), the original emplacement of the funerary equipment could still be documented. The disposition of the objects within the constricted space available provided clear information on the sequence in which the objects were placed in the tomb. The ritual scenario could be linked to two different ritual patterns: 1) a purificatory ritual and 2) the offering ritual of the Opening of the Mouth ritual complex. The article argues that the tool models (of which remains were found) should not be interpreted as images of daily life, facilitiating the deceased to perpetulise his earthly existence. Rather, it is suggested that they were used in the Opening of the Mouth ritual.