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“Taking Ancient Egyptian Mortuary Religion Seriously”: Why Would We, and How Could We?

Rune Nyord


Ancient Egyptian mortuary religion is full of ideas which, in their conventional  Egyptological interpretation, are very difficult to take seriously, seemingly contradictory and naïve as they are. This has not been a major problem within the field of Egyptology itself due to a disciplinary stance that tends to avoid engagement with the ideas ascribed to the ancient Egyptian actor, but in comparison with anthropological approaches—especially the recent “ontological turn”— such apparently absurd ideas raise a significant challenge. This paper argues that in order to “take seriously” ancient Egyptian practices, much of the Victorian baggage still with us in the traditional idea of the “quest for immortality” needs to be rethought.

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