Seminarium Afrykanistyczne: Liminality in ancient Egypt
The term ‘liminality’ was coined by Arnold van Gennep in his study about the ‘Rites of passage’ that concerned ritual sequences accompanying social transitions (childbirth, marriage, death etc.). In this van Gennep noted that transitional processes of different kinds share a structure that reflects a mutual pattern of thinking. He called the middle phase of such transitions liminal as it constitutes a border phase markedly different from the initial and final phases of the process separating them from each other.
The liminal phase is present in all the diverse types of cases where transitions are conceived by humans and this presentation concerns itself with two major categories, the spatial and the temporal/processual aspect of liminality as they can be observed in ancient Egyptian material. The notion of spatial transitions can be detected in architectural elaborations of cemeteries and tombs hence some parts of Old Kingdom necropoli are presented. The temporal appearance of liminality can be observed in cultic activities connected to the goddess Hathor who by her versatile nature was aptly able to represent transformations. As an illustration some New Kingdom rituals involving this deity are recalled during the presentation.
Dániel Takács (Wydział Orientalistyczny UW) is a Phd candidate at the Department of Egyptology, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw. His research interests include Egyptian religion, architecture, and language, as well as interdisciplinary studies of graphic communication systems; his dissertation concerns the phenomenon of liminality in ancient Egypt.