The Excavations at Ismant al-Kharab I: Roman-Period Cartonnage from the Kellis 1 Cemetery [Hardback]

Carlo Rindi Nuzzolo (Author); Colin A. Hope (Editor); Gillian E. Bowen (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789259049 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2022 | Language: English 464p, H297 x W210 (mm) B/W and colour

The Excavations at Ismant al-Kharab I


Excavations by the Dakhleh Oasis Project at Ismant al-Kharab, ancient Kellis in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, revealed the presence of an extensive necropolis dating to the Roman Period, with hundreds of rock-cut tombs containing multiple burials. Termed the Kellis 1 Cemetery, it yielded a range of artefacts and many of the individuals were provided with elaborately decorated cartonnage coverings. This is the largest collection of such material yet discovered in Dakhleh.

This book presents a detailed analysis of the entire corpus of cartonnage found at Kellis in a securely excavated context. These objects, which include mummy masks, foot-cases, and full body covers, were part of the burial accoutrements of the wealthier residents of the village. Stylistic and digital investigation of the artefacts suggests a well-defined craft production, with the presence of multiple groups of craftsmen using specific manufacturing techniques and local traits in their iconographic repertoire. The scale of evidence demonstrates that Kellis was a vibrant community with a dynamic funerary production in contact with nearby areas. Comparison with finds from the neighbouring Oasis of Kharga, as well as with artefacts in museums collections and from the antiquities market, suggest a complex network of skilled craftsmen throughout the region.

This is the first comprehensive study of the material. It has been studied in person by the author in the field enabling a detailed appraisal of the items, whether intact or fragmentary. It builds on recent research addressing regionalism and craftsmanship, and constitutes one of the main sources to investigate issues of permanence and change in the indigenous funerary customs of the area.

Table of Contents

Foreword (Colin A. Hope)
List of figures, plates, maps and tables
Introduction: Scope, methodology, and structure of the study
Status quaestionis: previous research and major contributors
Scope of the present study and research questions
Significance of the research: the importance of the Kellis cartonnage case-study
Chapter 1: Cartonnage from Ismant al-Kharab: the archaeological context
Introduction: Ancient Kellis. Description of the site and archaeological investigation Ismant al-Kharab: areas of interest in relation to cartonnage
The Kellis 1 Cemetery: Archaeological investigation
The Dakhleh Oasis Project documentation: sources for the Kellis 1 Cemetery
The Kellis 1 Cemetery: description of the site and previous research
Cartonnage from the North Tomb Group Cartonnage from other sites in Dakhleh Oasis
Chapter 2: The Kellis cartonnage: typological and iconographical study
Mummy masks
Full body covers
Cartonnage from other areas of Dakhleh
Chapter 3: The Kellis Craftsmen
The Kellis Craftsmen
Identification process
The craftsmen groups
Conclusions: the craftsmen and the Kellis cartonnage production
Chapter 4: Cartonnage from Kharga Oasis
Ain el-Labakha
Ain el-Dabashiya
El-Deir Dush
Chapter 5: Unprovenanced cartonnage on the art market and in museums
Introduction Cartonnage on the art market
Cartonnage in museums
Catalogue of objects
Cartonnage typology

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