Abydos in the Late Period: an epigraphic and prosopographic study
Leahy, Michael Anthony
Kemp, Barry J.
University of Cambridge
Faculty of Oriental Studies
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Leahy, M. A. (1978). Abydos in the Late Period: an epigraphic and prosopographic study (doctoral thesis).
The aim of this study is to investigate the origins of those commemorated at Abydos in the Late Period, in order to determine the extent to which it was a national, rather than a purely local, cemetery at that time. The basic source material consists of all the hieroglyphic inscriptions which are known or can be said to come from Abydos and, which can be dated to the period from c. 750-100 B.C.. Because the material has been dispersed throughout the world, often without any record of provenance, the first step is to establish the criteria by which to identify Abydene inscriptions. The second essential preliminary, is the dating of the corpus. As almost all the objects are undated, it is necessary to establish a relative chronological sequence which can be attached at crucial points to absolute dates, thus allowing inscriptions to be dated with varying degrees of precision. This is done by using epigraphic criteria, which are the only features common to all the inscriptions. The specifically Abydene titles are then identified and discussed as a preliminary to the division of those commemorated into those who were actually local residents and those who were from other parts of Egypt. This is done mainly on the basis of theophorous elements in names and titles. It appears that although there is clear evidence for non-residents at Abydos, these were only a small proportion of those commemorated, the large majority of whom were local priests. The unsystematic way in which the cemetery has been excavated has meant that the archaeological contexts of inscriptions are rarely known, and it is therefore very difficult to determine the actual form of commemoration - tomb, offering-chapel or commemorative stela. A detailed topographical survey, correlating the date and distribution of Late Period objects within the cemetery of Abydos, shows that there are clear and apparently deliberate changes in the area in use at a particular time, and it is suggested that these are closely related to the popularity of the cult of Osiris. Finally, the fluctuating appeal of the cult of Osiris at Abydos, as reflected in the extant material, is briefly discussed.
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