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Headless Men and Shattered Bodies: The Destruction of Prisoner Statues during the Late Old Kingdom
Six pharaohs of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties erected nearly life-size statues of kneeling bound foreigners in their pyramid complexes. These unique statues, which are known as prisoner statues, have only ever been discovered in fragments. This has led scholars to question whether the statues had been intentionally broken for ritualistic reasons. However, only the prisoner statues from two pyramid complexes actually show evidence of intentional damage in antiquity; those from the complex of Pepi I were methodically decapitated while those from the complex of Pepi II were violently smashed apart. In this talk I will explore the ritualized context of this destruction and how its significance developed from one complex to the other.
Dr. Tara Prakash is Assistant Professor of Ancient Art at the College of Charleston and currently the W. Benson Harer Egyptology Scholar in Residence in the Department of History at California State University, San Bernardino. She received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University with a specialty in the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt. Dr. Prakash has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on issues of ethnicity and identity, foreign interactions, artistic agency, and the visualization of pain and emotion in ancient Egypt, and her current book project is the first comprehensive study on the prisoner statues.