Abstract In 1962, Peter Ucko wrote his landmark work, The Interpretation of Prehistoric Anthropomorphic Figurines , challenging and permanently changing the prevailing view of prehistoric figurines as representations of a universal great mother goddess. His work focused on the Predynastic figurines of Egypt, and concluded that there was nothing divine about them. They were probably dolls, ancestor figures, talismanic pregnancy aids, tools for sex instruction and puberty rites, twin substitutes in graves and concubine grave figurines. Since then, this group of figurines has received minimal attention. Using Ucko’s four-stage methodology, this study more closely examines these figurines in the context of Ancient Egyptian culture and religion, with specific attention to the contemporary Sudanese religious beliefs and practices, which may share roots with Predynastic Egyptian culture. This study concludes that some Dynastic religious beliefs and iconography relating to female deities can be recognised in many of these figurines, and can be traced back to prehistoric Nilotic rituals.
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
Keywords: figurines; predynastic Egypt; Sudanese religion; prehistoric religion; neolithic; ancient Egypt
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