Singing with the Dead? The Harpists’ Songs in the New Kingdom
door H.P.R. Twiston Davies, medewerker aan het project The Walking Dead at Saqqara. The Making of a Cultural Geography.
The harpist’s songs are a type of text principally found on tomb walls in the New Kingdom, and which has provoked much discussion. These texts can be identified by the accompanying depiction of a musician, typically a lute or harp player, often depicted singing to the tomb-owner and his wife, who sit before an offering-table. The topic of the songs varies: some are hymns to the gods; others are lists of wishes for the deceased person to enjoy divine blessings in the afterlife; others encourage the deceased to rejoice in their tomb in the necropolis. A small number of these songs encourage the reader to enjoy this life while it lasts, and cast doubt on the value of building tombs, and the experience of the afterlife.
The harpists’ songs have provoked much discussion within academic Egyptology. In this talk, the songs are reconsidered on the basis of their artistic and textual contexts, to attempt to suggest how and where they might have been used in funerary rituals, and in the continuing use of the tomb by the living, after the burial.
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