Natasha D. Ayers (OREA)
While excavating the large Early Dynastic mastaba tombs at Saqqara, Egypt in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Walter B. Emery uncovered a number of intrusive New Kingdom burials with a complex combination of material culture and burial practices traditionally interpreted as signifiers of distinct cultural groups. Modes of burial documented by excavation records and photographs show some persons buried in coffins and others, more surprisingly, on so-called “Nubian style” wooden beds.
So far, only one of the Saqqara burials has received much attention from scholars, due to that assemblage containing a rare faience rhyton of Minoan shape, a Cypriot Base Ring I jug, Egyptian pottery, and Nubian or “Nubian style” pottery. The scholarly disagreement over the date of this burial, as well as the overly simplistic cultural historical description of many of these burials as Nubian soldiers by Emery, demonstrates a fresh appraisal of the Saqqara intrusive burials with a material culture theory perspective is overdue.
A larger aim of this project is to elucidate the socio-cultural sphere and possible processes that resulted in the complexity in material expression and practice documented at Saqqara, without imposing a rigid paradigm or label to this community and their active burial choices. This lecture will present preliminary observations on several specific burials, in addition to the character of the intrusive burials as a group, based on original excavation documentation used in combination with recent study (2019–2020) of the objects now held in U.K. museums.