par Vanhulle, Dorian
Référence Origins 6. International Conference on Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt (6: 10-15 septembre 2017: Vienne)
Publication Non publié, 2017-09-12
Communication à un colloque
Résumé : Boats are ubiquitous in Naqadian iconography throughout the 4th Millennium BC, where they appear on every known media. Already depicted on White Cross-lined pottery during Naqada I, the boat was central in the iconographic program of Naqada IIC–IIIB, especially on prestigious and ceremonial objects. It also appears on rock art, where almost 2000 occurrences have been recorded. These engravings are characterised by an important typological variety, which led to several attempts of building functional typologies. Unfortunately, because they only gather up boats that are aesthetically closed, the scope of these typologies is limited. As for the meaning of these nautical scenes, no satisfactory answer has been proposed yet. What seems obvious, however, is that the boat embodies various ideological concepts and is an expression of political and economic power. These ideological concepts evolve gradually from the beginning of the Predynastic period until the 1st Dynasty. Indeed, all artistic productions considered here undergo the same increase in complexity throughout the 4th Millennium BC. During the Early Dynastic Period, the iconography witnessed a strong politic of standardisation: some ideological concepts were reused in what became the official religious and political system, while others were abandoned. Once the king started to be personified, its image naturally embodied most of the notions that the boat expressed before, the main one being the concept of “Order out of Chaos”. The role of the boat was then confined to funerary and religious domains, as shown, for example, by the development of boat burials in royal and elite necropolis.The various symbolic meanings embodied by the boat are the result of a cognitive process that grew in complexity in parallel to the progressive development of the Naqadian society. The compartmentalisation of research into specific fields, mainly rock art, on the one hand, and Naqadian iconography on the other, prevents us to observe this phenomenon in its entirety. Only a holistic approach that encompasses all the data available concerning boats, from the Badarian period to the beginning of the Old Kingdom, can shed some light on this process and on its implications. This paper aims to present the results of such study, conducted in the context of a PhD thesis (F.R.S.-FNRS/Université libre de Bruxelles) and based on a catalogue of all the depictions and material productions linked to the boat published to date. It illustrates the establishment of a new classification system based on structural and aesthetic criteria, rather than solely on the shape of the hull. This allows us to refine current typologies and to take advantages of statistical analysis. Such a system can be applied to all kinds of boat images while remaining open to further discoveries. The study shows the appearance of official boat types and allows following their evolution until the Pharaonic period, setting the basis of a global typo-chronology. It also tries to explain this “contextual polysemy”, that is to say the fact that these productions convey different notions depending on their support and context of use.