Birmingham Egyptology

New research at Birmingham

Using theories of social and political decline to gain greater understanding of the end of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period

Summary of a talk given to IAA Forum on the 5th of February 2013 by Edward Mushett Cole in presentation of his intended area of research to the postgraduate community at the University of Birmingham.


My talk began by presenting a short history of the periods included within my thesis as many in the audience were not Egyptologists.  Beginning with the accession of Merneptah I proceeded through each dynasty detailing the most important events, from foreign invasions under the 19th, 20th and 25th dynasties to the building activities (or lack thereof) under the Libyan 21st, 22nd and 23rd dynasties…..  more


  1. May 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Firstly, Edward your talk was a fascinating insight into your proposed research – and I confess to being one of those people who asked lots of questions following your presentation (and in the pub over a drink!). Thank you for writing this brief summary of it – as it gives the opportunity to discuss some more useful points…

    I am still interested in the notions of ‘political landscape’ that you introduced, and perhaps this is an appropriate forum for others to contribute ideas of how this theory can be used to study political periods in Egypt’s history, as well as the construction of its surrounding landscape. Emma Login’s IAA Forum paper (on the 7th May?) addressed the issues of memory in landscape, which I feel has much overlap with the notion of political landscapes. In fact, I would assume that those in control would desire to engender memory into the landscape (through construction projects, communal features/events etc.) as a mode of social control and influence. Would you agree with that view? and would this also suit your research in any way Ed?

  2. Edward Mushett Cole
    June 8, 2013 at 1:41 am

    I agree that memory in landscape and political landscapes have a large overlap, particularly in the sense of creating a memory of a particular political system. This construction has been suggested for elsewhere/ other periods for example in Bronze Age burial mounds in the UK which were built on prominent ridges possibly to construct a political landscape. Howard Williams has shown that when the Anglo Saxons arrive in the UK these barrows get new barrows and imitation burials are built by both the Anglo Saxons and Vikings.

    This may well be useful for my research as social memory tends to be connected with discussions of power with knowledge of the past/ linking oneself with history seen as legitimising control. So if a political landscape is constructed it would rapidly become a memory landscape reinforcing the structure of the society it was built for. The constructed physical landscape would have established something that the cultural and social memories of the society could be created on and then reinforced through events and ceremonies. The reinforcement with rituals or ceremonies would create a sense of timelessness, that this landscape had been here for a seemingly infinite amount of time and that it would continue indefinitely. This sense of continuity would establish the framework of the political system in a concrete framework that existed in the past and present. All of which will work excellently at helping to explain why later Libyan and Kushite dynasties, despite being foreign in origin, are accepted as legitimate rulers by connecting with a political landscape with a past that to the majority of the population probably appeared to have existed forever. I think you mentioned that your landscape at Beni Hasan had seen ceremonies that would have perpetuated memories at the cemetery and reuse after a long break in usage?

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