From Archives to Soundscape analysis: Architectural change and power display in Early Dynastic Egypt


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships


Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations


In the early times of Egyptian history the king and the elites used the cemetery of the North Saqqara plateau, close to Memphis, to negotiate their authority. Through rituals—which included actions like human sacrifice—they conveyed their power to the larger population. The agency of the built environment in these performances is beyond doubt: large spaces allowed for ceremonial display as smaller ones had the ability to limit it. This project searches for patterns of change and continuity in how constructions affected the sensory perceptions of the people involved in these rituals. In order to understand their corporeal experiences, a multidisciplinary approach goes beyond the common visual emphasis to analyze the less tangible acoustic properties of the landscape. The goal is to understand the role that sound—and silence—played in the changing building practices of the time, which ultimately led to the emergence of a long architectural tradition.