Constructing the Sacred: Visibility and Ritual Landscape at the Egyptian Necropolis of Saqqara
2020 Winner of the AHA Roy Rosenzweig Prize. From the site: "The long-lived burial site of Saqqara, Egypt, has been studied for more than a century. But the site we visit today is a palimpsest, the result of thousands of years of change, both architectural and environmental. Elaine A. Sullivan uses 3D technologies to peel away the layers of history at the site, revealing how changes to sight lines, skylines, and vistas at different periods of Saqqara’s millennia-long use influenced sacred ceremonies and ritual meaning at the necropolis.
The author considers not just individual buildings, but re-contextualizes built spaces within the larger ancient landscape, engaging in materially-focused investigations of how monuments shape community memories and a culturally-specific sense of place. Despite our modern impression of the permanent and enduring nature of the site, this publication instead highlights that the monuments and their meanings were fluid, as the Egyptians modified, abandoned, resurrected, forgot, or incorporated them into new contexts. Virtually placing the reader within a series of landscapes no longer possible to experience, the author flips the top-down view prevalent in archeology to a more human-centered perspective, focusing on the dynamic evolution of an ancient site that is typically viewed as static."