The Representation of Women in Funerary Art

The Representation of Women in Funerary Art

Zoe Albert, Alexandra Alvarez, Kim Chu, Alec Jolicoeur, Francesca Miller, Clara Neilson

Our exhibition critically examines the patterns and developments related to iconographical representations of women in burial contexts. Our analyses explore how the content of funerary art reflects the societal, political, and domestic roles of women in Ancient Greece and Egypt. Our exhibition correlates funerary objects with conceptions of female deities, social responsibilities of elite women, and the varying perceptions of the enigmatic sphinx.

We aim to forge connections between these two unique cultures through the examination of depictions of females in funerary art and their association with ancient thought. We encourage the viewer to conceptualize our exhibition by pairing comparable figures or concepts from each culture.

While Pausimache’s Stele: Virtue and Tragedy explores the visualization of Ancient Greek notions of societal norms for elite women, Nefertiti as Divine Protector of Akhenaten’s Sarcophagus examines how a funerary artifact typifies the atypical role of an Egyptian queen. When these exhibits are paired, the viewer may contrast the responsibilities of elite women as they are represented in Greek and Egyptian artworks.

Through analyzing The Representation of Woman in Egyptian Funerary Art and Oedipus and the Sphinx: The Enigmatic Feminism of the Powerful Beast, the viewer determines that the sphinx is the manifestation of combined images of the ideal form. In the Egyptian tradition, the sphinx is thought to be a merged symbol of the ferocity of a lion and the noble strength of a king. Comparatively, the Greek Sotadean Sphinx is the product of the union of the animal, the divine and the human whose representation is ultimately the female form. Despite the gender identity of the Egyptian and Greek sphinx, their underlying common motive is to illustrate larger histories of representation of divine ideals.

A comparison of Persephone: Queen of the Underworld and Isis: Goddess and Mother of Egypt reveals that in both Greek and Egyptian civilizations, mythic female deities play an essential role in the myths and beliefs of death and the afterlife. Both goddesses have come to convey a notion of death and rebirth in their respective cultures. The exhibi

ts about these two mythical figures aim to showcase how these powerful female figures influenced and shaped the mortal conception of death and beyond.


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