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VIRTUAL - Horns, Signposts, and an Upturned Fist: The Striking Landscapes and Material Legacies of Egypt’s Royal Living-Rock Stelae

April 9, 2021 @ 7:15 pm EDT Pacific Time

This is an online event.

AIA Society: San Diego

Lecturer: Jen Thum

Most of us think of ancient Egypt as a culture of “big building,” especially at the hands of its kings. Yet there are some cases where Egyptian kings chose not to build monuments in order to underscore their power and position, but instead to inscribe them directly into living-rock features such as cliffs, outcrops, and boulders. Such monuments include living-rock stelae, which bore official communications from the royal establishment. It might be difficult to imagine the pharaohs as makers of rock inscriptions, but under certain sociopolitical circumstances, they were. How did Egyptian views of living rock as a material inform the choice to make a living-rock stela, and how did these monuments work? What made certain rock features attractive places to carve, and certain messages demand a place in the landscape? This lecture explores the circumstances that led Egyptian kings to use living rock as a monumental medium, and what their messages can tell us about how this medium was understood.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Thum, J. 2016. “When Pharaoh Turned the Landscape into a Stela: Royal Living-Rock Monuments at the Edges of the Egyptian World.” Near Eastern Archaeology 79(2): 68-77.

A TED-talk-style 5-minute video I did for Research Matters! at Brown a few years ago: Rocks, Drones, and Instagram

Please contact Elizabeth Pollard ahead of time at for the link to join this online lecture.

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April 9, 2021
7:15 pm EDT
Event Category:


Elizabeth Ann Pollard


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