The Performative Structure : Ritualizing the pyramid of Pepy I

University dissertation from Uppsala : Teologiska institutionen

Abstract: This study investigates the ancient Egyptian pyramid complex as a ritualized structure. In accordance with an indigenous cultural pattern, the category of an eternal architecture had been created at the beginning of the Old Kingdom (ca. 2700 B.C.), the evolution of which there-after bears witness to a constant visualization of the contemporary changes in the discourse of mortuary religion. The mythic and ritual properties of this architectural genre become increas-ingly articulated in the second half of the period, when its various elements are configured in accordance with a more accentuated iconic pattern, a change combined with the inauguration and development of comprehensive programs of decoration in terms of images and texts. The thesis is divided into two main parts. The first part examines the concept of monu-mentalization as a strategy in a process of ritualization, and the performative/operative faculty inherent in sacred architecture, iconic script and images. It presents the role of the Old King-dom mortuary temple as a ritualized abode on the basis of the surviving programs of decora-tion, finally to create a bridge to the second part by delineating the role and organization of the Pyramid Texts found inscribed on the walls of the royal tomb at the end of the same period. The second part provides an analysis of the textual corpus inscribed in the pyramid tomb of king Pepy I (early 6th Dynasty, ca. 2300 B.C.). It demonstrates that the texts were distribut-ed at distinct space-bound thematic and ritual levels in order to perpetuate a cultic activity from which the beneficiary and lord of the tomb could be transformed by means of a move-ment through the different chambers and corridors towards the exit. In this respect, the corpus of texts distributed in his tomb provided a monumentalized performative structure that effec-tuated his perennial rebirth. 

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