Exploring the Mind of the Early Egyptian Artisan

Mødedato: Torsdag d. 4/6
kl. 18.00
Lokale: KUA1 23.0.49

v. Dr. Kathryn E. Piquette, Research Associate, Cologne Center for eHumanities, Univ. zu Köln and Honorary Research Associate, UCL

Early Egyptian iconography constitutes a rich and varied body of evidence for cultural developments in early Egyptian society.

Imagery on cosmetic palettes, ivory combs, decorated vessels, funerary labels, and other objects reveals early religious belief, an evolving ideology of rulership, and insight into aspects of individual and collective identities as expressed in funerary and ceremonial domains.

Less well understood, however, are the artisans who produced these image-bearing artefacts. While archaeological and documentary evidence concerning artisan training and practice is largely absent, advanced digital imaging technologies are opening up new avenues of research.

In this lecture, I discuss how Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) – a computational photographic method that enables the user to virtually relight and artificially enhance artefact surface features – is allowing us to study early Egyptian art anew. RTI permits micro-scale analysis of surface features, making it possible to discern different phases of the creative work – even providing glimpses into the mind of the early Egyptian artisan.

Changes in technique, tool marks or the direction of tool travel, as well as minor adjustments within a composition or wholesale erasure offer new insight into early Egyptian artistic practice. The results also raise new and exciting questions about the relationship between the physical expression of imagery, cultural significance and symbolic meaning.