ARCE Lecture on Ancient Egypt Iconoclasm

By O'Rourke, Anne | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2012 | Go to article overview

ARCE Lecture on Ancient Egypt Iconoclasm


O'Rourke, Anne, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


The Washington, DC chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) presented an Oct. 18 lecture on "Episodes in Iconoclasm in New Kingdom Egypt" at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in the nation's capital. Dr. Betsy Bryan, a specialist in the history, art and archaeology of Egypt's New Kingdom, ca. 1600-1000 B.C., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, spoke about two of her favorite iconoclasts, Hatshepsut and Akhenaten.

Bryan began by remarking on how new audiences are taking an interest in this subject as people note the similarities between ancient iconoclasm and modern fundamentalism that tries to shut down the religious expression of others. For ancient Egyptians, the mutilation and destruction of images often focused on decapitation and dismemberment, as seen in the remains of both predynastic mummies and statues of 18th Dynasty pharaohs like Hatshepsut and Akhenaten. These attacks were motivated in part, Bryan explained, by the belief that removing the head, hands and feet would impede your enemies from coming after you even after death. …

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