PhD thesis. The iconography on ancient Egyptian faience bowls

Updated: Jan 20




"Votive representations for "the lady of life". Iconographical analysis of faience bowls of the Egyptian New Kingdom."


Ph.D. thesis. University of Montreal


"This study’s research question raises the issue of the paradoxical nature of the Egyptian canon of representation which shows, simultaneously, a certain rigidity in the application of established stylistic and iconographic rules, especially in non-state commissioned art, and evidence for the transformation and integration of new iconographical motifs. The study aims to identify the mechanisms by which the canon permits, at the same time, transformative processes and the maintenance of tradition. The approach is twofold and consists primarily in identifying trends and stylistic/iconographical discontinuities in the iconography found on the faience bowls from the Middle to the New Kingdoms. Furthermore, it aims to determine if the socio-political and ideological transformations taking place in these periods can be discerned in the stylistic and iconographical variations found on the bowls of the Middle to the New Kingdoms. The author discusses the theoretical model of “representation” in Egyptian context, followed by an analysis of what constitutes the major contribution of this study: an exhaustive iconographical analysis of 500 faience bowls and fragments originating from various Egyptian sites dating to the New Kingdom. The data was evaluated by means of the method of iconological analysis proposed by Panofsky, which permits the identification of a number of stylistic and iconographic continuities and changes for all periods. These transformations seem to be the result of a variety of factors, including fluctuations in the centralization and decentralization of the state, as well as the integration of foreign motifs (Near-Eastern and Aegean), which results from increased contacts between Egypt and its neighbouring regions. Furthermore, the ideological transformations taking place under Akhenaten’s reign and the ones resulting from the ideological “counter-reformation” occurring during the Ramessid period, equally seem to contribute to the changes in the representational canon, even though the latter maintained a certain continuity that was legitimized by the state. The canon thus emerges as a form of language used by the state, and sometimes despite it, which can fluctuate and be altered depending on the realities of the different periods."


(2011) Abigaëlle Richard. Représentations votives pour la « Dame de Vie ». Analyse iconographique des bols de faïence du Nouvel Empire égyptien, Ph.D. thesis, Montreal: University of Montreal, 2011, 444 p., cxxxvi.


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Dissertation defence presentation in French