Non-textual marking systems at Gebel el Silsila : From Dynastic signifiers of identity to symbols of adoration

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In Gebel el Silsila the quarry faces are cluttered with literally thousands of pictorial and textual representations; together they form a window of information to the ancient activity in the area and provide us with a prosopography of its workers and an idea of the ancients’ contemporary ideology. The more complex category of representations is quarry marks, a form of graffiti that appears in abundance with some 5000 examples, dating from the New Kingdom to early Roman Imperial times. Engraved into the surface, the marks are all executed technically in the same way, carefully carved with a metal chisel. They are located as singulars or in linear series in all the cardinal directions and all over the full heights of the quarry faces, measuring between c. 10 cm up to sometimes 1.5 m in height. Their character is comparable with contemporary script systems, concrete pictograms, abstract geometrical patterns, etc. and as such they fall into the category of pseudo script or non-textual marking systems. They are often considered as signifiers of identity, with the referent assumed to be an owner, contractor, a single workman or a group, etc. Other practical considerations of use include marks for transportation, positioning, height and depth, etc., but this paper aims to explore also alternative meanings and discuss a possible progression from marks that originally signified work or workmen to more complex religious expressions. As a work still in progress, this paper is a summary of results achieved thus far.
Titel på värdpublikation* PR: Book chapter: ‘Non-Non-Textual Marking Systems in Ancient Egypt (and Elsewhere) (Lingua Aegyptia Studia Monographica 16), ed. by J. Budka, F. Kammerzell, and S. Rzepka, Hamburg 2015, 81-105.
RedaktörerJulia Budka, Frank Kammerzell, Slawomir Rzepka
FörlagWidmaier Verlag (Hamburg)
ISBN (tryckt)978-3-943955-16-3
StatusPublished - 2015



Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Arkeologi


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