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Osiris judging the souls, engraving of a wall scene from the tomb of Ramesses VI (c. 1140 BCE) drawn by Edme-François Jomard (1777–1862), from Description de l’Égypte (Paris, 1818), 2:pl. 83

In the Catacomb of Metempsychosis

Seeing the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife in the Early 19th Century

Center Research Talks

  • Thursday, April 6, 2023
  • 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • West Building Lecture Hall and Virtual
  • Talks
  • Hybrid
  • Registration Required

Join an in-depth presentation by Rune Nyord, Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, on the reception of Egyptian tomb scenes by the European authors, artists, and readers of the early 19th century.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt in 1798—and in turn the encounter with the decorated royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings—marked a turning point in European thought about ancient Egyptian mortuary religion, thanks in large part to the publication of the monumental Description de l’Égypte, which made available detailed descriptions and depictions, as well as authoritative interpretations, of ancient monuments. This talk will explore how these images were interpreted within a pre-existing framework developed over the previous centuries, fusing prevailing concepts with the new-found imagery.