Rethinking Osiris. Proceedings of the International Conference, Florence, Italy, 26-27 March 2019 (SANEM 5) - Massimiliano Franci, Salima Ikram, Irene Morfini


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    Paper edition, 21x29,7, 202 pp. con e tavv. in b/n

    Table of Contents

    Massimiliano Franci

    Mark Smith
    Following Osiris: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century

    Nils Billing
    ‘Meryre has come to you, Horus, so that you may make it for him, this great and perfect speech that you gave to Osiris’. Ritual identification of the king with Osiris’ in the pyramids of Unas and Pepi I

    Mariano Bonanno
    A New Osirian Solar Epithet in TT49? Considerations about the nocturnal sun in the chapel

    Sara Caramello
    Osiris, the Aramaeans, and the Water

    Maria Cristina Guidotti
    Unpublished images of Osiris in the Egyptian Museum of Florence

    Nadine Guilhou
    Osiris and the Heavenly Bodies

    Dagmara Haładaj
    Scenes and symbols of Osirian character in the iconography of Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Dynasty coffins from Thebes

    Francesca Iannarilli
    The Nubian Osiris: traditions and elaborations of the Osiris’s cult in the Kushite culture

    Ilaria Incordino
    Osiris in Byzantine Egypt? Possible reminiscences of Osirian themes in pottery decoration from Manqabad monastery (Asyut)

    Eid Mertah
    Studying polychromed bronze statues of Osiris: a methodology

    Irene Morfini, Milagros Álvarez Sosa
    A New ‘Osiris Tomb’ in Sheikh Abd el-Qurna - Luxor: From Myth to Architecture

    Andrzej Niwiński
    Osiris on the 21st Dynasty coffins

    Massimiliano Nuzzolo
    The Appearance of Osiris. A case of royal patronage or a bottom up process?
    Errata Corrige

    Gyula Priskin
    The 104 amulets of Osiris at Dendera

    Valentina Santini
    The role of Osiris During the Amarna age: from Texts to Depictions

    Marina Sartori
    Osiris and the (lotus) fan. On the birth of a rare iconographic association

    Uta Siffert
    Osiris—the Mummy par excellence? Investigating the iconography, development and function of the Mummy shape during the Middle Kingdom

    The International Conference that focused on “Rethinking Osiris” took place in Florence, Italy, from the 26 to the 27 of March 2019. It was organized by the writer and Irene Morfini of the Center for Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies in Florence (CAMNES), and by Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo, in partnership with the Polo Museale della Toscana, the Museo Archeologico of Firenze, and the Museo Egizio of Firenze. Therefore, I would like to thank respectively Stefano Casciu, Mario Iozzo and Maria Cristina Guidotti. To all of them I renew my most sincere thanks for the valuable collaboration.
    The idea of organizing such an international event was related to the pivotal position of the Osiris figure and the idea to deepen our understanding of this fundamental component of pharaonic culture. The myth of Osiris allows us to understand some of the fundamentals of pharaonic civilization, such as the functioning of the monarchy and the right of succession, the natural cycle of the Nile River, and the possibility of a life beyond death. New exhibitions in recent times such as “Isis und Osiris” in Hannover (2017–2018); “Osiris. Dios de Egipto. El ser que permanece perfecto” (Barcellona 2016), and “Osiris. Egypt’s sunken mysteries” (Paris, London, Zurich, and Missouri), witness not only to the great interest towards the Osirian figure, but also the important and paradigmatic role played by this god against whom, pharaohs, men (Egyptian and foreign), and deities measured their personal identity and moral and juridical values, both in daily life and in the afterlife.
    In light of the new interest and discoveries made (e.g., new Osiris Tomb in Sheikh Abd el-Gourna), it has been useful during the two days of the conference to re-consider Osiris’ pivotal and multifaceted function, which have attracted so much interest over the millennia, and at the dawn of the Third Millennium AD. How to rethink Osiris? Rethinking can take various forms: it can lead us to change our mind about something, a shift towards a different point of view, or it can expand our knowledge and show us something completely new that we previously ignored. We all agree that the figure of Osiris allows us to investigate Egyptian culture through mutiple keys of interpretation: different analytical perspectives (e.g., personal god vs. cultural god, images of god vs. images of man), and posing challenging questions (e.g., What is the nature of the relationship between Osiris and the world? Does the world’s existence depend upon Osiris?).
    The rethinking process should contribute to highlight and perhaps elucidate contrapositions and contradictions, taking into consideration that the myth of Osiris bears a wealth of these. Let’s start with a contraposition: Osiris was not the first god to interact with the afterlife: Sokar, Khentyamentyu, Anubis, Ra, Ntr ‘3, all of these deities contributed to the creation of a response to the ineluctable passage until Osiris prevails, he dies in a drama that mixes together kingship, family law, and funeral rituals. However, we have to consider that Osiris does not have the supremacy as a creator god as he himself was created, but is prominent as the one who defeats death. This story is best understood by analysing it stratigraphically: different divinities uniting in Osiris, the evolution of Seth as a balancing negative figure, and expanding the roles of Horus and some goddesses. The figure of Osiris as a king creates contradictions. If he was the dead king and sovereign of a state existing at a mythological level, was this state Egypt? The answer is no, because the Foundation Myth of the Egyptian State recalls the territory unity from duality, expressed by the name of the country Tawy, and by the contraposition between Horus and Seth creating unification and not division, thus supporting Maat. Consequently, since this contraposition (Horus and Seth) was required by the State to be born, the existence of Osiris was a clear contradiction, and therefore he had to die. Balance was not achieved if good prevailed over evil, but by two perfectly balanced opposing forces, in relation to which a man (the king) is the fulcrum and cement, with Horus and Seth in perfect equilibrium, creating universal harmony (Maat).
    During the two days of the conference, divided into four sessions (Origins and Developments, Iconography, Ritual and Texts, and Water Connection), twenty-five speakers and six posters were presented in an enthusiastic atmosphere that gave the conference a serene and constructive course with interesting discussions. To all the participants goes our warmest thanks especially for bringing to light some interesting points that generated strong discussions: the use of both textual and non-textual evidence in Osiris’ analysis is important, but when we move beyond written sources, the questions that arise are: how do we interpret iconography or representations? What are the limitations of iconographic evidence? By the end of the Fourth Dynasty, how did the emergence of Osiris affected both society and the ways in which State and religion were organized? Was this emergence connected mainly to high officials’ tombs?
    Moreover, in many funerary chambers and chapels, some dangerous entities are represented. How can we consider their aspect and function? Are they demons or protective figures or moral entities that terrify and repel the enemies of Osiris and guard the deceased? This question is related to the meaning of the word “netjer” and the difference between “netjer” and “djeser”, especially when a “netjer” like Osiris dies. Considering one of its epithets “netjer aa”, can Osiris be the key to demonstrate that ancient Egyptians believed in just one god named “netjer”, a divine power with a number of characteristics of whom Osiris himself is just one? Or is “netjer” a status that you can obtain during or by a ritual performance? How did the Egyptians imagine the mythical tomb of Osiris? Are the mound, the island surrounded by water, and the tree planted on top all fundamental and necessary elements in its definition? Finally, how could the relationship between Osiris and water be further analyzed?
    In this volume, we have collected the contributions of those who accepted the invitation to prepare for publication a version of their presentations from the conference. In his keynote lecture and present contribution, Mark Smith (to whom goes our special thanks) introduces us to a new perspective in the study of Osiris in the Twenty-first Century starting with the discovery and publication of new texts pertaining to Osiris through recent and ongoing fieldwork in Egypt that reveal important new evidence relating to the god and his cult, as well as pointing out areas that deserve particular attention in the study and in elaborating new approaches. Nils Billing evaluates the association of the tomb owner with Osiris at the end of the Fifth Dynasty, demonstrating how the comprehensive role of Osiris is first fully assessed in the architecture and text of Pepy I’s pyramid in the Sixth Dynasty, and evaluating if the king’s identification with the god was considered temporary or everlasting as a result of the ritual. Mariano Bonanno examines a new solar epithet for Osiris studying the iconographic program of TT49 and the funerary ritual in its inscriptions. Sara Caramello investigates the connection from a different point of view between Osiris, Aramaean culture, and water throughout the analysis of the funerary objects with Aramaic inscriptions from Memphis, questioning if the use of the water was strictly linked to this foreign culture and its peculiarity. Maria Cristina Guidotti presents some interesting unpublished images of Osiris in the Egyptian Museum of Florence and their possible function. Nadine Guilhou assesses Osiris’ celestial body identifications clarifying these different aspects and defining their relationships. Dagmara Haładaj explores the scenes and motifs related to the cycle of Osiris myths in the iconography of Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Dynasty coffins, connected to the resurrection and protection of the Osiris-deceased. Francesca Iannarilli analyses the traditions and elaborations of the Osiris cult in the Kushite culture putting them in the right historical perspective, emphasizing its far from marginal role, and throughout the syncretic phenomena evaluating new aspects of Osiris, such as his association with the Greek Dionysus and, consequently, with the Meroitic Apedemak. Irene Morfini and Milagros Álvarez Sosa present their analysis on the complex structure of a tomb (Kampp -327-) that seems to evoke the legendary Tomb of Osiris containing elements that can be found in the monumental tombs of the Late Period (Twenty-fifth to Twenty-sixth Dynasties), compared with similar private funerary structures of the Luxor area. Andrzej Niwiński investigates Osiris in the iconography of the Twenty-first and early-Twenty-second Dynasties, mainly the Theban yellow-grounded coffins with their rich iconographic repertoire where Osiris plays the leading role, stressing their variety and chronological development, possibly corresponding to various workshops active in Western Thebes. Massimiliano Nuzzolo examines the historical context in which Osiris appears for the first time as a complex process, questioning if we are dealing with a case of royal patronage in the religious sphere dating the appearance of Osiris and its early characteristics. Gyula Priskin, starting from the 104 amulets of Osiris described in the innermost western chapel of the god at Dendera, investigates the meaning of this number as an expression of the capacity of the Osiris myth to be a way to reassert Egyptian identity during foreign rule. Valentina Santini considers the role of Osiris during the Amarna Age, evaluating both its presence and absence in the texts and underlining the religious implications. Marina Sartori explores the relationship of Osiris and the lotus fan showing the birth and the development of this iconographic association as well as focusing on its meaning. Uta Siffert investigates the iconography, development, and function of the mummy shape during the Middle Kingdom underlining the contradictory relationship that exists between the mummy form and its interpretation as an Osirian form and rethinking this correlation. Ilaria Incordino investigates some particular Osiris themes in Byzantine Egypt pottery decoration from the Manqabad monastery (Asyut).
    As we can see, all the contributions reflect the variety and complexity of the topics discussed during the conference, and we expect that these essays will provide some new questions and set a stronger foundation for future research.
     Massimiliano Franci - CAMNES, Firenze.

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