Monday, November 10, 2008

Upcoming ARCE-DC Lecture: Some Theological Notes on the Hibis Temple

Friday, November 21, 2008, 6:30 P.M.
Fatma Ismail, PhD student in Egyptology, Johns Hopkins University

Location: Benjamin T. Rome Auditorium, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

Lecture Summary: The Hibis temple sits at an advantageous geographical and historical crossroads. Geographically, it is located relatively far from Nile Valley; it was built in the city of Hibis, in the Kharga Oasis, the largest oases in the western desert of Egypt. The city of Hibis was the center of the ancient trade routes between the Nile Valley, the Egyptian and Libyan oases further to the east and the famous southern markets in Sudan and Ethiopia. Historically, the major parts of the temple belong to the Persian period, the time of Darius the great around 510 B.C.E. It is almost the only considerably well preserved temple that survived from the period 1100 - 300 B.C.E. Of that period, nothing in the Delta or in Thebes equals or even comes close to the Hibis temple with its beautiful state of preservation. The temple is dedicated to the god Amon of Hibis but there are ample layouts for other cults as well.

The aim of the ongoing study of this temple is to investigate the symbolism and meaning of its rich decoration and to see how Hibis stands in relation to earlier and later temple theology. The analysis of certain chapels to the south of the main sanctuary as well as on the roof of the temple will be particularly discussed. These chapels, which likely served as reception or residence halls for the gods of the temple, show the distinguished local cult of Hibis. In contrast to the universal character of the decoration of the main sanctuary, those of the surrounding chapels emphasize the temple’s own dogma. They also indicate the rites that predominate throughout the temple.

Speaker: Fatma Ismail is a PhD student at the Near Eastern Department of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She finished her undergraduate studies and a preliminary master's degree in Egyptology at Helwan University in Cairo. Her dissertation topic was on the iconography and meaning of the decorations of the Hibis Temple. She presented two talks on this subject at the Annual Meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt in 2006 and 2008. For many seasons, she has been a field member of the annual excavation of The Johns Hopkins University Expedition to the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut at Karnak. She worked on the following important exhibitions: “Faces of Ancient Arabia The Giraud and Carolyn Foster Collection of South Arabian Art” and “The Eternal Egypt Exhibition: Treasures from the British Museum” in the Walter’s Art Museum; and “Quest For Immortality: Treasures Of Ancient Egypt” at The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Additionally, she contributed several entries to the unpublished catalogue of the Egyptian Art collection at the Walter’s Art Museum and to the database of the Archaeological Collection at Johns Hopkins University.

Source: ARCE-DC Weekly Newsletter (Chris Townsend)

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