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H 276 x W 203 mm

102 pages

12 figures

Published Dec 2023

Archaeopress Access Archaeology


Paperback: 9781803275871

Digital: 9781803275888

DOI 10.32028/9781803275871

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Ancient Egypt; Old Kingdom; Ceramic Vessels; Tombs; Funerary; Ritual

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Breaking the dšr.t Vessels

An Ancient Egyptian Fragmentation Rite

By Elena Luise Hertel

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‘Breaking the dšr.t-vessels’ was a funerary rite that involved the intentional damaging of a certain type of ceramic vessel. The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of the rite through a re-evaluation of the primary sources and previous research and to provide the first study devoted entirely to the rite.




Goal and Definition

On the Necessity of a Re-Evaluation

Methodology and Structure


The BdV in Egyptological Literature

History of Previous Research

Phase 1: Identification

Phase 2: Contextualisation

Phase 3: Attribution of Archaeological Evidence

Interpretations of the BdV

The BdV as a Rite Against Evil

Proponent Arguments


The BdV as Disposing of Vessels

Proponent Arguments


How to Move Forward


The Concept of Intentional Damaging of Objects: Fragmentation Theory

Interpreting the Intentional Fragmentation of Objects

Implications of Fragmentation Theory for the BdV

Forms of Intentional Fragmentation of Objects in Ancient Egypt


The dšr.wt – Appearance, Use, and Purpose

dšr.t-Vessels in the Old Kingdom

dšr.t-Vessels in the Middle Kingdom

dšr.t-Vessels in the New Kingdom

dšr.t-Vessels After the New Kingdom

dšr.t-Vessels in Archaeological Contexts

Conclusion on dšr.t-Vessels


Contextualising the BdV

The Pyramid Texts

The Old Kingdom Private Contexts

The BdV in the Middle Kingdom

The BdV Scene in the Luxor Temple

The dšr.wt in the BdV

The New Kingdom Vessel-Breaking Scenes


Summary and Conclusion



Appendix Table 1

Appendix Table 2

Appendix Table 3



A1 – dšr.wt in the Old Kingdom

A2 – dšr.wt in the Middle Kingdom

A3 – dšr.wt in the New Kingdom

A4 – dšr.wt after the New Kingdom

B1 – BdV in the Old Kingdom

B2 – BdV in the Middle Kingdom

B3 – BdV in the New Kingdom

B4 – Vessel-Breaking Scenes in New Kingdom Private Tombs


Bibliography and Abbreviations

About the Author

Elena Hertel holds a BA Classical Archaeology and Egyptology from Heidelberg University and an MA by research in Egyptology from Leiden University. Currently she is a PhD candidate at Basel University in the Swiss National Science Foundation project ‘Crossing Boundaries’. Her research specialty in Egyptology is the combination of philological and object studies. She is also involved in several publication projects of demotic and abnormal hieratic papyri.