Obelisks in Late Antiquity: Roman or Egyptian? The symbolic and functional meaning of Egyptian obelisks in the Roman world in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD

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Obelisks in Late Antiquity: Roman or Egyptian? The symbolic and functional meaning of Egyptian obelisks in the Roman world in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD

Type: Master thesis
Title: Obelisks in Late Antiquity: Roman or Egyptian? The symbolic and functional meaning of Egyptian obelisks in the Roman world in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD
Author: Julius, Eline
Issue Date: 2014-08-29
Abstract: In comparison with the obelisks in Rome in the classical period, the late antique obelisks have been neglected. Therefore, this thesis will concentrate on the Egyptian obelisks in the Roman world in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD in order to create a better image of the obelisks in this period. The main question of this thesis is about the definition of these late antique obelisks: Are they Egyptian or Roman? To answer this question, the symbolical and functional meaning of the late antique obelisks is described in order to say something about the use of obelisks in late antiquity. From the evidence it becomes clear that the Egyptian obelisks in late antiquity still were regarded as special monuments, which had a symbolic meaning. The majority of the late antique obelisks were placed in circuses in which they represented the sun. This practice followed the Roman tradition begun by Augustus in the 1st century BC. The relation with the sun indicates that late antique obelisks still were associated with Egypt and that the traditional meaning of the Egyptian obelisks was not forgotten. As in ancient Egypt, the late antique obelisks had multiple meanings. Eventually, the traditional Egyptian meanings were incorporated into the Roman culture in such a way that it had become impossible to define the late antique obelisks as being Egyptian or Roman. To my opinion, the late antique obelisks are neither Egyptian nor Roman, because both cultures had adopted elements from other cultures. Thus, the late antique obelisks are the result of the contact between Egypt and the Roman world, which had led to the creation of a hybrid style, of which the obelisks are a good example of.
Supervisor: Versluys, M.J.
Faculty: Faculty of Archaeology
Department: Archaeology (Master)
Specialisation: MA
ECTS Credits: 20
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/28377
 

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