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The Aamu of Shu in the Tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hassan

Janice Kamrin


This paper addresses the well- known scene of “Asiatics” in the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hassan (tomb BH 3), which an associated inscription dates to Year 6 of Senusret II (ca. 1897–1878 bce). Many scholars have studied this scene and come to a variety of conclusions about the original home of the foreigners represented and the specific reason for their apparent visit to Egypt. These various theories are discussedand evaluated herein through a detailed review of the scene’s individual elements, along with its accompanying inscriptions. Attention is also paid to the additional levels of meaning embedded in the scene, in which the foreigners function as symbols of controlled and pacified denizens of the chaotic realm that constantly surrounds and threatens the ordered world of the Egyptians. The symbolic levels at which thescene functions within its ritually charged setting neither conflict with nor detract om its historic value, but rather complement and enhance the inherent richness and complexity of the concepts that underlay its creation.


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