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In the Shadow of Djoser’s Pyramid

Research of Polish Archaeologists in Saqqara


Karol Jan Myśliwiec

The book presents the discoveries made by the Polish archaeological mission in Saqqara, the central part of the largest ancient Egyptian royal necropolis. The area adjacent to the Pyramid of King Djoser on the monument’s west side, so far neglected by archaeologists, turned out to be an important burial place of the Egyptian nobility from two periods of Pharaonic history: the Old Kingdom (the late third millennium BC) and the Ptolemaic Period (the late first millennium BC). The earlier, lower cemetery yielded rock-hewn tombs with splendid wall decoration in relief and painting. The book also describes methods of conservation applied to the discovered artefacts and episodes from the mission’s life.

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Glossary of foreign expressions and words

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Glossary of foreign expressions and words

acolyte (from Greek) – helper

alter ego (Latin, ‘second self’) – a person equated with someone else

anepigraphic (from Greek) – not containing any inscriptions

anthropoid (from Greek) – humanoid in shape

anthropomorphic (from Greek) – having human features (e.g. a god)

antithetic (from Greek) – contradictory

apotropaic (from Greek) – possessing magical properties, capable of expunging evil spirits

architrave (from Italian) – a horizontal beam resting on column heads, supporting the upper parts of a structure

basilophoric (from Greek) – containing a king’s name

bucranium (from Greek) – a decorative architectural element in the shape of a bull’s head or skull

casus (Latin) – ‘case’

cenotaph (from Greek/Latin) – a symbolic grave not containing a corpse

chantier (French, ‘place of work’) – an excavation site

chthonic (from Greek) – linked to the underground world

commemorative (from Latin) – honouring or preserving the memory of a person

cosmogony (Greek, ‘creation of the world’) – a set of mythological notions about the genesis and essence of the universe

cryptography (from Greek) – coded script

damnatio memoriae (Latin, ‘condemnation of memory’) – the erasing of a person from the memory of posterity, the removal of his images and name

de facto (Latin) – ‘in reality’

deification (from French) – making someone into a god

demiurge (from Greek) – creator of the world

deus ex machina (Latin, ‘god from a machine’) – an unexpected saviour, an apparition

diachronic (from Greek) – that which considers the succession of processes in time

didascaly (Greek, ‘teaching, explaining’) – an author’s explanations or notes contained in the text, referring to the way in which a play should be staged

ephemeral (from French/German) – short-lived, fleeting, temporary

exedra (from Greek) – a semi-circular niche with a bench running along the inner wall

embarras de richesse (French) – a problem resulting from superfluous abundance

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en face (French) – from the front, opposite

Eolic (from Greek/Latin) – created as a result of the wind’s actions

eschatology (from Greek) – a field of theology focused on the posthumous fate of humans and the end of the world

euphemistic (from Greek/German) – not expressing (articulating) something directly, vague

ex definitione (Latin) – ‘by definition’

expressis verbis (Latin) – clearly, emphatically, avoiding understatements

hemicycle (from Greek/Latin) – a half circle or semi-circle

hermitage (from Greek/Latin) – a settlement for monks leading a reclusive life

hypostasis (from Greek) – an aspect of a deity that is usually a personification of his abstract traits

holistic (from Greek) – comprehensive

horror vacui (Latin) – a fear of leaving an empty space in works of art; a tendency towards covering it completely with decorations

hybrid (from Latin) – a composition made up of different elements, frequently not suited to each other

iconoclast (from Greek) – a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

iconology (from Greek) – the study of the content of artistic works and their symbolism

in spe (Latin, ‘in hope’) – a term characterising something that is not yet present or existent but is expected

interlocutor (from French) – someone with whom one is having a conversation

khedive (from Ottoman-Turkish) – a title used by the rulers of Egypt at the turn of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries

koine (Greek, koine (dialektos) – ‘common tongue’) – widespread Greek language that formed in the Hellenistic period, more generally – a culture merging elements from various civilisations

lapidarium (from Latin) – a collection of stones or stone fragments of statues, buildings, etc

lege artis (Latin, ‘according to the law of the art’) – in accordance with law, legally

lingua franca (Italian, ‘language of the Franks’) – a language that is the means of communication between people who normally speak different languages (e.g. in contemporary times – English)

madrasa (Arabic, ‘place of study’) – a Muslim school

ménage à trois (French) – a sexual arrangement involving three persons

milieu (French) – ‘environment, sphere’

monastic (from Greek/Latin) – concerning monasteries and life in them

monochromy (from Greek) – a single colour

monotheism (from Greek) – belief in a single god

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necropolis (from Greek) – a cemetery

novum (Latin) – ‘something new’

Oflag (from German) – a German prisoner of war camp for officers during the Second World War

onomastics (from Greek) – a field of linguistics studying proper nouns, names

onomatopoeic (from Greek) – imitating a sound

padre (English from Italian/Spanish ‘father’) – a spiritual father; chaplain

panta rhei (Greek ‘everything flows’) – everything in the world is constantly changing

pantheon (from Greek) – all of the deities of a particular religion or religious centre

par excellence (French) – quintessential; to the highest degree

partage (from French) – resulting from a division (e.g. of objects after excavations)

per analogiam (Latin) – ‘by analogy’

Philhellenic (from Greek) – associated with a love for Greek culture

phoneme (from Greek/French) – the smallest unit of a language’s system of sounds

polychromy (from Greek) – multicoloured paintings decorating walls or ceilings in buildings; the paintings decorating a work of art

portico (from Latin) – part of a buildings consisting of a row of columns supporting the vault

primum non nocere (Latin) – ‘first, to do no harm’

progeniture (Latin) – offspring

prosopography (from Greek) – the study of a collective biography

rais (Arabic) – the supervisor of labourers

reconnaissance (from French) – a preliminary survey

relief (French) – a sculpture on a flat surface

risalit (from German/Italian) – part of a building’s façade protruding from the wall surface

schism (from Greek/Latin) – division or disunion

signum temporis (Latin) – ‘a sign of the times’

status quo (Latin) – the existing state of affairs at a given moment

stela (Latin ‘tomb pillar or stone’) – an upright stone plate, usually decorated with a bas-relief and inscription

tableau (French) – a ‘painting’

tambour (from French) – a drum

theophoric (from Greek) – containing the name of a god

theogamy (from Greek) – divine nuptials, marriage of gods

toponym (from Greek) – the name of a place

topos (Greek, ‘place’) – a permanent motif; element of culture

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wadi (Arabic) – a dry desert valley, formed in the Pleistocene, which fills with water following seasonal downfalls

zoophobia (from Greek) – fear of animals

zoomorphic (from Greek) – in the shape of an animal