Ancient Egypt in our Cultural Heritage?

  • Vera Vasiljević Department of Archaeology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Egyptology, reception of Ancient Egypt, Egyptomania, cultural heritage, Serbia


Inspiration derived from ancient Egypt is usually expressed through the Egyptian motifs in arts and popular culture of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as through the non-scientific interpretations of the culture, very much based upon the Renaissance ones. The number and variety of material and non-material traces of this fascination are most expressed in the countries where, along with the early support for the institutional development of Egyptology, there existed economically potent educated middle classes (Western and Central Europe, USA), but may also be traced elsewhere. The public fascination by ancient Egypt has not ceased by the times of foundation of Egyptology, marked by the decipherment of the hieroglyphic script in 1822. Until the end of the 20th century Egyptologists have rarely dealt with the prelude to their discipline, limiting their interest to the critical approach to ancient sources and to noting the attempts to interpret the hieroglyphic script and the function of pyramids. However, the rising importance of the reception studies in other disciplines raised the interest of Egyptologists for the "fascination of Egypt", thus changing the status of various modes of expressing "Egyptomania" – they have thus become a part of the cultural heritage, registered, documented, preserved and studied. The research of this kind is only beginning in Serbia. The line of inquiry enhances the knowledge of the scope, manifestations and roles of the interest in Egypt, not limited by the national or political borders. On the other hand, the existence of the cultural heritage similar to the wider European view of ancient Egypt – short remarks by Jerotej Račanin, Kandor by Atanasije Stojković, the usage of architectural motifs derived from Egypt, the emergence of small private collections, to mention several early examples – all show that the research into the reception of ancient Egypt may contribute to the knowledge about the history and understanding of the complexity of the cultural life of Serbia.


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