In ancient Egypt, wrapping sacred objects, including mummified bodies, in layers of cloth was a ritual that lay at the core of Egyptian society. Yet in the modern world, attention has focused instead on unwrapping all the careful arrangements of linen textiles the Egyptians had put in place.
This book breaks new ground by looking at the significance of textile wrappings in ancient Egypt, and at the way their unwrapping has shaped the way we think about the Egyptian past. Wrapping mummified bodies and divine statues in linen reflected the cultural values attached to this textile, with implications for understanding gender, materiality and hierarchy in Egyptian society. Unwrapping mummies and statues similarly reflects the values attached to Egyptian antiquities in the West, where the colonial legacies of archaeology, egyptology and racial science still influence how Egypt appears in museums and the press.
From the tomb of Tutankhamun to the Arab Spring, Unwrapping Ancient Egypt raises critical questions about the deep-seated fascination with this culture - and what that fascination says about our own.
Unwrapping Ancient Egypt is a riveting review and critique of Egyptological scholarship, studying a time-honored subject against a critical analysis of traditional western scientific approaches. Christina Riggs' masterful intertwining of critical theory and thorough analysis provides important new insights. Willeke Wendrich, Professor of Egyptian Archeology, UCLA, USA Christina Riggs takes us on a lively exploration of Egyptology's prize finds and ably offers a fresh approach to familiar mummies and their textile bindings. As a means by which the dead and objects were sanctified and transformed, textile wrappings are presented as a structuring principle in ancient Egyptian society and discourse. Susanna Harris, ERC Research Associate, PROCON Project, UCL, UK Through its focus on concealment and revelation, this beautifully written book raises 'mummification' from the realms of obscurity and curiosity, relocating it within a politics of the body that sheds light on both the deep past and contemporary practices of collection and display. It is an important contribution that cuts across the fields of art history, Egyptology, archaeology, anthropology, cultural heritage, material culture, and museum studies. David Wengrow, Professor of Comparative Archaeology, University College London, UK More poetry than prose, embroidered with details gleaned from her extensive knowledge and experience as an Egyptologist and museum curator, Riggs' interwoven tale of two Egypts skillfully employs the metaphor of wrapping, the past (wrapped/concealed) and the perceived past (unwrapped/revealed), as a common thread that binds both worlds. Lorelei H. Corcoran, Professor and Director of the Institute of Egyptian Art & Archeology, University of Memphis, USA This book is a distinctive and significant contribution to the fields of Egyptology, anthropology, art history, and cultural studies. It is simultaneously a study of ancient Egypt and modern Western culture. In particular, the author examines the ancient Egyptian mortuary practices of wrapping and shrouding bodies, and the modern archaeological and museological practices of unwrapping bodies. Robert Preucel, Director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and Professor of Anthropology at Brown University, USA This is a work of passion, poetically written and convincingly argued, which highlights the crucial role played by textiles, wrapping and concealment in the structuring of ancient Egyptian society. -- Sarah Griffiths Ancient Egypt Riggs' critique of the academic treatment of mummies is well taken, but its implications reverberate far beyond Egypt, mummies, archaeology, or the museum. As anthropologists, we are compelled to ask whether, how, and to what extent our disciplinary practices and gazes have misconstrued and actually damaged the very knowledge that we set out to reveal. -- Jack David Eller University of Buffalo
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 10th April 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.8
Weight (kg): 0.71