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The Question of Identity: Ethnicity, Language, Religion, and Gender

Before Islam:  Egypt

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This elaborately decorated cartonnage mummy case of the woman Meresamun is painted with figures intended to ensure rebirth and life after death. Meresamun's prayer is to two trinities of solar and underworld deities, and the combination of these multiple gods (with further epithets) is addressed simply as the single “he” - marking a significant theological development in Egyptian religion. This "pantheism" is attested for a few men of this period, but Meresamun is the first woman known to have such a prayer.

The style of the coffin and her title, “Singer in the Interior of the Temple of Amun,” suggest that she lived in the Theban (modern Luxor) area soon after the end of the New Kingdom. Her title indicates she held an important position in the bureaucracy of priestesses of the state-god Amun. Many women who held this title were known to come from the best families of Thebes, and some of them served as attendants to the ruling family.

Next Button Off Mereruka and His Wife, Watetkhethor

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