My research builds upon an existing Masters dissertation, reassigning probable dating and geographical origins to wooden funerary figures held by the Egypt Centre, Swansea University, expanding the dataset to all examples known in UK institutions. Such figures were the main source of providing continued sustenance for the deceased from the end of the Old Kingdom, replacing tomb relief and physical food offerings, thus representing an important aspect of funerary beliefs for the ancient Egyptians. Through studying the trends in the activities being carried out by the figures, and the shifts in the quality and quantity of figures produced, I will explore whether the diversification of activities portrayed can be seen to echo the concerns of the living; for instance, does an increase in scenes of food production correlate with periods of scarcity?
The First Intermediate Period was traditionally viewed by historians as a time of economic chaos and artistic decline, yet this does not seem to correlate with the stylistic evolution and variation of funerary figures. Rather, this instability can be seen as a desire for greater security in the afterlife with a range and quantity of funerary figures, as opposed to the uncertainty of reliance on the living to maintain one’s funerary cult during times of social and economic upheaval.