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Egyptian cultural identity in the architecture of Roman Egypt (30 BC-AD 325)

This thesis explores the complexity and fluidity of Egyptian cultural identity in architectural form in Roman Egypt. It covers the period from the Roman conquest in 30 BC to the official recognition of Christianity in AD 325. The thesis focuses on the relationship between architectural form and layers of identity assertion. Special consideration is given to the issue of continuities and changes in Egyptian cultural traditions. Through explorations of arrangement and use of urban space and public buildings, Chapter I addresses the diversity of architecture as evidence for the complexity and permeability of cultural markers of identity, with special focus on the use of temples as centres of local identity. Being a self-evident symbol of traditional temples, Chapter II suggests that the pylon offers a good example of the complexity of identity and the dynamic nature of cultural traditions in the Roman period. Although the pylon appears on the Palestrina mosaic and classical literature on Egypt as a cliché of ancient Egyptian culture, it was not necessarily a marker of those legally defined as Egyptians. The third chapter focuses on different forms of rituals activities performed within or around the domestic space as evidence for the multiplicity of identity, the complexity of Romano-Egyptian society, and the shared cultural heritage of house occupants. Chapter IV discusses iconography in Roman-period tombs as an expression of the fluidity of cultural traits and as evidence for the biculturalism of the patrons. The final chapter deals with the correlation between architectural ornament and Egyptian cultural identity. It focuses on the torus moulding, cavetto cornice, and Egyptian composite capitals with its five-tiered band and abacus both as a reflection of the dynamic nature identity and as evidence for the hybridization of architectural ornament. In the conclusion, I summarize my work and draw out its implications, suggesting that identity was a multi-layered and dynamic phenomenon. The complexity and multiplicity nature of identity left its impact on architecture in Roman Egypt, where there was a close and extremely complex relationship between architectural form and different perceptions of identity.
Date January 2012
CreatorsAbdelwahed, Youssri Ezzat Hussein
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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