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About the project

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Building on the continually emerging evidence of reuse of wood in the production of ancient Egyptian coffins, the Fitzwilliam has begun exploring the wider reuse of materials and material culture, such as blocks of stone and even complete monuments.

The practice of modifying and reusing objects in ancient Egypt seems to have been widespread, including coffins, statues and even complete monuments. This tests our understanding of some long held beliefs about the ancient Egyptians and we need to attempt to discern ancient Egyptian attitudes to the appropriation of funerary materials apparently created for an individual’s use forever.

Most recently we have been examining, in a preliminary way, the methods by which ancient Egyptian stone stelae were made, modified, reused, defaced and destroyed. In December we held a small interdisciplinary, working with a geologist, a professional sculptor and two Egyptologists specialising in the production of metal tools in ancient Egypt, to recreate portions of the text and decoration on a First Intermediate Period stela in the Fitzwilliam’s collections.

We have also begun to create a lexicon of modification terminology.

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