Oxford Expedition to Egypt: Scene-details Database

Linacre College, Oxford, 2006

Data copyright © Linacre College, Oxford unless otherwise stated


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Dr Yvonne Harpur
Linacre College, Oxford
St. Cross Road
Oxford
OX1 3JA
England

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Resource identifiers

Digital Object Identifiers

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Citing this DOI

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https://doi.org/10.5284/1000009
Sample Citation for this DOI

Linacre College, Oxford (2006) Oxford Expedition to Egypt: Scene-details Database [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000009

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Glossary

A general summary of Database and Egyptological terms:

Alternative dates:
The default dates of tombs in the OEE Database are from a system of tomb-dating devised by the database's author. The alternative dates (not currently included in the database) are the dates suggested by other researchers for the same tombs. Subject to appropriate funding we would like to include the alternative dates in the database so that users are made aware of differing opinions as to the dating of specific tombs (and hence the dating of their scenes and scene details).
Burial chamber:
A subterranean room or set of rooms cut into the bedrock to house the sarcophagus and grave-goods of the tomb owner. Access to the burial chamber was generally by way of a vertical shaft that was blocked with pre-cut stones or rubble shortly after the burial. The burial chamber is often located below the chapel, which is usually situated on ground-level.
Cemetery:
An area in the desert used for tombs and their burial chambers in ancient times. Many cemeteries are clustered around the pyramid of a king, and the earliest tombs in these cemeteries tend to belong to members of his family, entourage, and priesthood. Other cemeteries are predominantly 'family' cemeteries that developed around the tomb of a senior member of a high-ranking family, or cemeteries for lesser officials and craftsmen who could afford to pay for the construction of a tomb.
Chapel:
The accessible section of a tomb, either consisting of a single room or a number of joining rooms with carved or painted scenes on some (or all) of the walls. The chapel is often situated on ground-level and protected by a stone-built shell, known as the 'superstructure'. Alternatively, it is cut into the side of a cliff or rocky outcrop, and its walls are either formed from the 'living' stone or lined with pre-cut limestone blocks. The two chapel types are known as 'stone-built chapels' and 'rock-cut chapels' respectively.
Chronological order:
Temporal order of the named and unnamed tombs in the database, according to the dating system devised by the database's author. The abbreviated and full writings of each date are recorded in the database.
Columns:
The primary system of recording data in the database so that maximum flexibility of data manipulation is possible. In the display of data relating to scenes and scene details the default display includes six columns of data; the maximum display is nine columns of data.
Date:
In our Phase One database the word 'date' refers to the default date of a specific tomb, tomb owner, displaced block, scene or scene detail. The default date is the dating estimate provided by the database's author.
Dating criteria:
Material evidence and/or scholarly arguments used to establish the date of a tomb, or the date of a relief or painting on a tomb-block no longer in situ.
Default display:
Columns of data automatically brought to the screen for the user, without his prior selection of the nine available columns.
Display:
Data fully visible on the screen or requiring a degree of vertical scrolling.
Dynasty:
An ancient period of time that covers the successive reigns of a group of Egyptian kings. These kings are frequently related, either by blood or through arranged marriages (or sometimes both).
Egyptian diacriticals:
Special accents on a large number of Egyptian words, including the names of individuals, to represent the vocalization of certain hieroglyphs, notably the aiyn and the aleph. These accents are not within a standard font therefore they are omitted in the database and the Egyptian words are adapted accordingly.
Geographical order:
Order of the tombs according to their physical location in Egypt, from north to south, as cited by PM (see below for the full writing of this source).
Harvard referencing system:
A well-known number system, frequently used in academic books to record chapters, sections, sub-sections, and even sub-sub-sections in numerical and academic precedence, for example, 1 (= Chapter 1); 1.4 (= Chapter 1, section 4); 1.4.2 (= Chapter 1, section 4, sub-section 2); 1.4.2.3 (= Chapter 1, section 4, sub-section 2, sub-sub-section 3). The database has the same structure (i.e. theme, scene type, scene detail, detail-within-a-scene-detail, etc).
Icon:
A button or another device that can be clicked or similarly activated to bring specific data to the screen.
Inscription/Texts:
Hieroglyphic symbols often carved in scenes and scene details. The inscriptions might record names, titles, explanatory captions, or even the conversations of individuals depicted in the decoration.
King:
The usual description for a ruler of Egypt during the Old Kingdom period (another name for the word 'Pharaoh').
Level:
A 'plateau' of information in the database. At present there are two main levels in the database (Phase One), the ultimate perhaps being a maximum of four levels (ideally in Phase Two of the database).
Menu:
A selection of information-icons or buttons spaced across the upper edge of the screen. Each of these icons is capable of being activated to display specific data or to fulfil a function (i.e. the main menu). Both levels in the database also include a special menu with an on/off facility for the selection of columns of data, and a functions menu for the re-ordering and printing of columns of data.
Name:
The name of a tomb, or rather the name of a tomb owner inscribed in his tomb. This name is used in the database to indicate the ownership of a specific scene or detail. If a decorated block is known, but not the tomb from which it derives, the 'tomb name' usually given in the database is the city and/or museum name and number of the block.
Official:
An individual of considerable standing in the bureaucracy, priesthood or labour-force of the reigning king, who was able to afford a tomb to commemorate his earthly existence and ensure the survival of his body in the Afterlife. The current database deals exclusively with the monuments of officials (as opposed to the monuments of kings). If possible, however, we would like to identify, research, and include the relevant scenes and scene details from the royal monuments of Old Kingdom date in Phase Two of the database.
Old Kingdom period:
The great age of pyramid building in Ancient Egypt, when officials strove to identify themselves with the king by constructing large or elaborately decorated tombs for themselves and their families.
Painting:
Pigments derived primarily from the earth and mixed with water and adhesive to create paints. These paints were applied directly to a chapel wall (i.e. paintings) or used to enhance sunk or raised carvings (i.e. painted reliefs).
PM:
Abbreviation for B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Texts, Reliefs and Paintings. This series is cited in our database as a primary source of additional information (page references only).
Pyramid:
Burial of a king during the Old Kingdom period. The pyramid consisted of the familiar 'triangular' structure (containing the burial chamber), a mortuary temple, a causeway (or passage along which the king's sarcophagus was dragged) and a valley temple. Most pyramid complexes were originally decorated with scenes and inscriptions.
Reliefs:
Carved inscriptions and compositions, usually on the walls of temples and tombs. Various types of relief are known, the basic forms being 'sunk' relief (relief carved below the flat surface of a slab of stone) and 'raised' relief (relief that was left raised, once its background of un-carved stone was cleared away to a depth of a few millimetres).
Scene detail:
A small element of a scene type, usually repeated in a slightly different way whenever the scene type is carved in a different tomb. Scene details can vary in size, usually depending upon the size and complexity of the scene type to which they belong.
Scene type:
A certain type of outdoor or indoor activity either painted or carved in one or more tombs.
Site:
An alternative name for a necropolis, which is an area incorporating a number of ancient cemeteries and perhaps a number of pyramids and temples as well.
Temple:
A structure built for the worship of a god or goddess, or for the worship of the cult of a king. Most temples were decorated with scenes, and figures of the deity or king.
Theme:
A group of related scene types. For instance 'Gardening' is a theme, whereas 'Watering a garden', and 'Cultivating vegetables' are scene types related to this theme.
Title:
A term used to define an official's bureaucratic or religious status in the Egyptian hierarchy. Some officials had scores of titles, whereas others had only one or two.
Tomb:
A monument used to 'house' the body of an official after his death. Typically a tomb consisted of a subterranean burial chamber and a superstructure on ground-level which contained a decorated chapel. Most decorated chapels were accessible to visitors in antiquity, particularly on special 'feast' days. The upkeep of the tomb was the responsibility of the necropolis priests - at least until the cult of the tomb owner died out and the superstructure was eventually hidden under wind-blown sand.

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