Modeling the Mechanics of Temple Production in the Middle Kingdom: An Investigation of the Shena of Divine Offerings Adjacent to the Mortuary Temple of Senwosret III at Abydos, Egypt

Vanessa E Smith, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

During the Middle Kingdom, the term šn‘ or shena, was used by the ancient Egyptians to denote a food production area, primarily of bread and beer, which was attached to religious institutions. As a production area, the shena represented a place of pivotal importance in the economic structure of the Egyptian temple as a producer of divine offerings, wages and pensions for temple personnel, and as a taxpayer to the Egyptian state. In theory, every temple would have had a shena to provide for its cultic and economic needs. Although there are thousands of temples identified archaeologically from ancient Egypt, no shena have been fully investigated or published from and period of Egyptian history. Currently, all of our understanding of the nature of shena comes from textual and iconographic evidence. ^ The main focus of this dissertation is a study of the shena of divine offerings adjacent to the mortuary temple of Senwosret III at south Abydos, Egypt. Excavations in the 2004 clearly showed that the baking of bread and brewing of beer was the primary function of the shena at south Abydos. However, other activities were also brought to evident, including meat processing, fish procurement and processing, wine processing, metal-working, linen production, and pottery production. ^ Over 5000 seal impressions were recovered from the shena buildings and its midden. These seal impressions record the names and titles of both individuals and institutions. As a corpus it is possible to discern interactions between the shena and other religious and non-religious institutions. Further, it is possible to create a bureaucratic framework of the mortuary complex of Senwosret III at south Abydos which includes the mortuary temple, a hidden tomb, and a town. The shena attached to the Senwosret III temple provides an excellent opportunity to better understand non-cultic temple activities and bureaucracy through its architectural, artifactual, and textual remains.^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Archaeology|History, Middle Eastern|History, Ancient

Recommended Citation

Smith, Vanessa E, "Modeling the Mechanics of Temple Production in the Middle Kingdom: An Investigation of the Shena of Divine Offerings Adjacent to the Mortuary Temple of Senwosret III at Abydos, Egypt" (2010). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3447527.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3447527

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