The Utilization of Collective Memory to Legitimate Persian Kingship in Egypt

Recorded: February 18, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium

by Marissa Stevens (University of California, Los Angeles)

The Utilization of Collective Memory to Legitimate Persian Kingship in Egypt

The Achaemenid empire embraced cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity within its expansive territory and practiced a strategic willingness to tolerate – and even support – these heterogeneous customs for the greater benefit of the empire’s political cohesion. The examples of the inscription on the naoforo vaticano statue of Udjahorresnet and the archaeological evidence from Mit Rahina reveal the Persian strategy of utilizing Egyptian collective memory to their advantage. By purporting to understand Egyptian religious traditions and to restore Egyptian cultic spaces, Achaemenid rulers were overtly showcasing both their authority in Egypt and their legitimate right to rule via religious sanction. These actions imbedded Persian dominion within the religious traditions of Egypt, making a strong political and economic statement of power in the process.