Recorded: February 18, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium
Citation: Stevens, Marissa. "The Utilization of Collective Memory to Legitimate Persian Kingship in Egypt," Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium. February 18, 2020.
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.
About the Speaker
Marissa Stevens is the Assistant Director of the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World. Trained as an Egyptologist who studies the materiality, social history, and texts of the Third Intermediate Period and Late Period, she first earned an Honors B.A. in History and Sociology from Washington & Jefferson College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago, before completing her Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Her dissertation focused on 21st Dynasty funerary papyri to determine funerary iconography’s role in defining an individual’s social identity, specifically with respect to titles, social position, family lineage, and gender of the Theban elite. Combining art historical and linguistic approaches, her research interests focus on how objects can solidify, maintain, and perpetuate social identity, especially in times of crisis when more traditional means of self-identification are absent.