Sponsored by: ARCE-PA Chapter
During the late Old Kingdom, six different pharaohs erected nearly life-size, limestone statues of kneeling, bound captives inside their pyramid complexes. These statues, which are commonly known as prisoner statues, were clearly an important part of the monument’s decoration. Yet, scholars still struggle to understand many issues concerning the statues, including exactly how they were used and who they depict. This talk will focus on the prisoner statues from one particular pyramid complex, that of Pepi I. These prisoner statues were methodically decapitated, likely as part of their original function, and they seem to portray generic foreign enemies rather than specific ethnicities, as is typical in Egyptian art. Consequently, the Pepi I prisoner statues complicate modern assumptions concerning the ancient Egyptian understanding of statuary and foreigners.
Dr. Tara Prakash received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her dissertation was the first comprehensive study of the prisoner statues, a series of late Old Kingdom statues of kneeling bound foreigners. She is currently preparing a book manuscript on this topic. She is a postdoctoral fellow in the Near Eastern Studies department at Johns Hopkins University, and she has previously taught courses at the City College of New York. She has also worked as an excavator for archaeological projects in Abydos and Tel Kabri, Israel. Her research interests include issues of ethnicity and identity, foreign interactions, artistic agency, and the uses of statuary in ancient Egypt.