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HUM-Fagkomiteen for humaniora

An archaeology of the Pharaonic Nile and the rise of the Egyptian civilisation - Comparing religious water-worlds in history

Awarded: NOK 2.3 mill.

There have been two dominant theories regarding the rise of the early civilisations: 1) large-scale irrigation systems gave rise to despotic and bureaucratic states, and 2) population increase in a restricted area such as the Nile valley led to warfare an d subsequently to hierarchies and the rise of civilisation. Neither of these theories is capable of explaining the empirical evidence and the historical development in Egypt. The irrigation systems were relatively primitive and organised at a local rather than at a state level during the third millennium BCE, and the centralised government was more concerned with collecting taxes, displaying royal power and religious institutions than irrigation. This puts the emphasis on water. Egypt is described as the "Gift of the Nile". The life-giving water was essential not only for the economy, but also as a constitutive part of the ancient Egyptians' religious worldview. The world's largest pyramids at Giza in Cairo are spectacular monuments of death. Osiris was b oth the god of death and the Nile flood, and the god unifies life, death, and water. Therefore, the main objective of the project is to develop a synthetic perspective for enhancing the understanding of the religious role water had in the rise and constit ution of the Egyptian civilisation during the Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom (ca. 3000-2130 BCE) in the Delta area. The project is a part of the Nile Area Programme, which is an independent, multidisciplinary research programme for Nile studie s, and the Nile River Basin Programme is a part of the Nile Area Programme. Hence, one of the leading Nile research centres will be located to the University of Bergen. Finally, the project is a continuation of my doctoral dissertation where I conducted a comparative study of the roles death and life-giving waters have in the constitution of society and cosmos in parts of Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and the Indus valley in today's Pakistan.

Funding scheme:

HUM-Fagkomiteen for humaniora