• Boston University, Arts and Sciences Building (map)
  • 725 Commonwealth Avenue
  • Boston, MA, 02215
  • United States

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Boston University Archaeology Department and will take place in Room 211 in the Boston University Arts and Sciences Building.

Exploring the Invisible in Ancient Egypt

a lecture by

Kasia Szpakowska

Associate Professor of Egyptology
Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology
Swansea University

In both the modern and ancient world, intangible entities embody and are blamed for a host of physical and psychological afflictions, as well as being called upon to aid the sufferer. These mythical beings are known in many cultures by many names such as: gremlins, imps, faeries, ghosts, daemons, genies, monsters, small gods, angels, and invisibilia. Although the Ancient Egyptians themselves had no specific all‐encompassing generic label for this category of beings, as individuals and groups they were described in texts and imagery. For the ordinary person, these beings played vital roles as mechanisms for coping with and manifesting abstract stress, afflictions, and fears.

They come in an incredible range of imaginative forms, made up of bits and pieces of humans, animals and even objects, and appear on a range of sources. The focus of this presentation is on how these beings were manifested in images and the specific attributes (animal, facial, gesture) that the Ancient Egyptians chose to emphasize. Kasia Szpanowska's current research explores this in the broader context of cognition: the embodiment and expression of inexpressible concepts through these icons, memes and archetypes. The aim is to work out the motivation underlying the choice of particular attributes over others and to determine which emotive characteristics still resonate today.