Ancient Egyptian images
Lonneke Delpeut's research at the Vienna Doctoral School of Historical and Cultural Studies is focusing on ancient Egyptian tomb decoration. These images were created 3,500 years ago to impress the tomb owner's peers, family, friends, and, in a way, even us. "They were supposed to keep the tomb owner alive in the afterlife as well as in life on earth," says the Egyptologist who explores how the ancient Egyptians expressed themselves. "When studying dead cultures, we are greatly dependent on whatever they left us," Delpeut explains. "And the images from ancient Egypt tell us all kinds of things about the tomb owner's life, and through that also about the ancient Egyptian society, its culture and beliefs."
In archaeology, too, a picture is worth a thousand words
In order to extract as much information from these images as possible, Delpeut reassesses the usual approach towards these images and tries to look at them from the eyes of the ancient Egyptians. "I study these images by looking at two different aspects, namely: What does the image consist of? How did the artists use these visual clues to tell the tomb owner's story?" the PhD candidate says.
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"Ancient Egypt is famous for its images but in order to assess these images as a source of information we have to ask all kinds of questions – and these are the same questions we would ask when studying modern media. For example: Who took the image? Why was the image taken? What message is being conveyed in the image?" Delpeut explains. Answering these questions helps Delpeut to understand how people expressed themselves in ancient cultures as well as today.
Vienna: My favourite city
For her research, Delpeut does not have to look for images in Egyptian tombs – her research depends mostly on books, so "I spend most of my time in my office and in the library," she says. "The Vienna Doctoral School offers the perfect opportunity for young scholars such as myself to develop their research projects but also to develop themselves as scholars". And as an added bonus: Vienna has always been her favourite city in the world. (ps)