chapter  4
69 Pages

To live forever

The decoration of royal mortuary complexes
WithLaurel Bestock

The royal tomb complex is the most consistent and best represented type of context in which images of violence occur in the Old and Middle Kingdoms; it also preserves the largest variety of such images. Most of the tombs in question, with the exception of that belonging to king Nebhepetra Mentuhotep of the Eleventh Dynasty, are pyramids. Violent scenes from kings' mortuary complexes include images of the king smiting captives, of the king trampling enemies, and of battle. As the collection of these images demonstrates, themes ranging from scene type to ethnicity were moderately consistent across the Old and Middle Kingdoms, with some innovations but no major ruptures seen over time. The author of this chapter addresses some aspects of what these images might have communicated to whom, and how they functioned. To do this the author briefly examines their audience, followed by a discussion of historicism in the corpus, and then ideology.