The Evolution of Scene Content and Meaning in Reliefs and Paintings from Middle Kingdom Tombs (‘MEKETRE’).
During the Middle Kingdom, funerary monuments carried on the essential idea of Old Kingdom tomb building and decoration. However, in the Middle Kingdom the decorative programme – scenes and specific scene details – changed considerably. Many scenes and scene details characteristic of tombs from the Old Kingdom disappear during the later era, while either new motifs occur or former representations are carried on under modified versions. These changes and innovations, which constitute a fundamental part of Middle Kingdom funerary culture, have never been studied on a large scale in two-dimensional art. While the representations, the iconography as well as the development of scenes in private and royal Old Kingdom tombs have been dealt with to a large extent, in-depth and large-scale research in Middle Kingdom representations, scene details and iconography are still lacking proper investigation. No up-to-date assessment of the entire bibliography pertaining to scenes and scene-details has as yet been accomplished.
The overall concept of this research programme will focus on change and innovation in two-dimensional art and target the following questions: when and where do specific scenes or scene details, motifs or larger scene compositions appear or disappear, or are carried on under modified versions – and why. What is the specific connotation of these scenes in the overall scheme of tomb decoration? In addition, when we study Middle Kingdom reliefs and paintings it becomes apparent that more complex modes of interpretation are possible and that many scenes have multi-layered information to offer. Thus, topographical and regional considerations, traditions, art-schools, the location and distribution of scenes on walls and, most importantly, stylistic analysis will form the core of research and analysis of this project.
In order to fathom the complex funerary culture represented in Middle Kingdom two-dimensional art, two students with excellent expertise should embark on specific topics approaching those questions from two different perspectives. One study should examine the representation and specific role/function of women within the multi-facetted programme of tomb decoration. In contrast to Old Kingdom representations greater numbers of women are depicted performing various tasks in the Middle Kingdom and the evidence for this, as well as some attempt to fathom the reasons for the change, should be part of this strand of the study. The second branch of the research will focus on the regional development of the decoration and style of the tombs at Meir and their relationship with tomb decoration in other cemeteries dating to the Middle and Old Kingdom. The main issue will be to establish the regional character of this necropolis, the possible motivations for the choice of decoration and scene details as well as the mode of their rendition.
Apart from these studies, a comprehensive and special bibliographical image database on two-dimensional art will be created in co-operation with a PhD student from the Faculty of Computer Science of the University of Vienna (Department of Distributed and Multimedia Systems - Multimedia Information Systems). Themes, scenes and scene details will be assessed and systematically organised, combined with their metadata and bibliographical references: all will be stored in a special database (MEKETREpository). This repository, hosted at the University of Vienna will be web-accessible and should provide quick and easy information related to two-dimensional art of the Middle Kingdom for scholars throughout the world.
Head of the project
Ao. Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Jánosi
Mag. Lubica Hudáková (geb. Zelenková)
Mag. Andrea Kahlbacher
Dipl. Ing. Christian Mader (Informatics)
Project link Meketre