Entwined lives: more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearch

Abstract

The mid-Fifth Dynasty tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep at Saqqara has been the subject of considerable debate regarding the relationship between its owners. Most studies to date have focused on specific wall scenes where the two men touch one another in a deeply affectionate manner - both holding hands and embracing. The intimacy implied by such gestures has led to much speculation about their relationship. The behaviour represented has been interpreted in different ways: some scholars have suggested that the two were simply brothers and show filial affection, others have instead proposed that they were twins, ranging from identical to conjoined siblings; while a third hypothesis is that the scenes reveal a homosexual relationship between the pair. This paper will present the results of our re-examination of the wall decoration in the tomb in which we have noted a significant number of paired images where one scene or motif 'mirrors' another, e.g. two Tilapia niloticus speared by Khnumhotep in the portico and chapel; double lions and black kites in room 2; pairs of donkeys that carry the men into room 4, etc. Many of these details are either the first known example in an elite tomb context or are images that are exclusive to this tomb. We propose that the frequency and placement of these dualities may be interpreted as visual puns that allude to the tomb owners' relationship. Such information adds further support to the hypothesis that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were identical twins, who celebrated this aspect of their lives visually through repeated references in doubled and mirrored images.
LanguageEnglish
Pages15
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014) - Sydney
Duration: 16 Jul 201418 Jul 2014

Conference

ConferenceThe Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014)
CitySydney
Period16/07/1418/07/14

Fingerprint

Tombs
Saqqara
Elites
Dynasty
Decoration
Placement
Gesture
Intimacy
Donkey
Portico
Puns
Duality
Motifs
Siblings
Chapel
Speculation
Brothers
Lion
Affection

Keywords

  • Ancient Egyptian Art
  • Egyptology
  • ancient egyptian iconography

Cite this

Evans, L., & Woods, A. (2014). Entwined lives: more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins. 15. Abstract from The Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014), Sydney, .
Evans, Linda ; Woods, Alexandra. / Entwined lives : more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins. Abstract from The Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014), Sydney, .1 p.
@conference{a1c3f3d78f2d464e94cda1985d411fd7,
title = "Entwined lives: more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins",
abstract = "The mid-Fifth Dynasty tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep at Saqqara has been the subject of considerable debate regarding the relationship between its owners. Most studies to date have focused on specific wall scenes where the two men touch one another in a deeply affectionate manner - both holding hands and embracing. The intimacy implied by such gestures has led to much speculation about their relationship. The behaviour represented has been interpreted in different ways: some scholars have suggested that the two were simply brothers and show filial affection, others have instead proposed that they were twins, ranging from identical to conjoined siblings; while a third hypothesis is that the scenes reveal a homosexual relationship between the pair. This paper will present the results of our re-examination of the wall decoration in the tomb in which we have noted a significant number of paired images where one scene or motif 'mirrors' another, e.g. two Tilapia niloticus speared by Khnumhotep in the portico and chapel; double lions and black kites in room 2; pairs of donkeys that carry the men into room 4, etc. Many of these details are either the first known example in an elite tomb context or are images that are exclusive to this tomb. We propose that the frequency and placement of these dualities may be interpreted as visual puns that allude to the tomb owners' relationship. Such information adds further support to the hypothesis that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were identical twins, who celebrated this aspect of their lives visually through repeated references in doubled and mirrored images.",
keywords = "Ancient Egyptian Art, Egyptology, ancient egyptian iconography",
author = "Linda Evans and Alexandra Woods",
year = "2014",
language = "English",
pages = "15",
note = "The Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014) ; Conference date: 16-07-2014 Through 18-07-2014",

}

Evans, L & Woods, A 2014, 'Entwined lives: more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins' The Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014), Sydney, 16/07/14 - 18/07/14, pp. 15.

Entwined lives : more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins. / Evans, Linda; Woods, Alexandra.

2014. 15 Abstract from The Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014), Sydney, .

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearch

TY - CONF

T1 - Entwined lives

T2 - more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins

AU - Evans, Linda

AU - Woods, Alexandra

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - The mid-Fifth Dynasty tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep at Saqqara has been the subject of considerable debate regarding the relationship between its owners. Most studies to date have focused on specific wall scenes where the two men touch one another in a deeply affectionate manner - both holding hands and embracing. The intimacy implied by such gestures has led to much speculation about their relationship. The behaviour represented has been interpreted in different ways: some scholars have suggested that the two were simply brothers and show filial affection, others have instead proposed that they were twins, ranging from identical to conjoined siblings; while a third hypothesis is that the scenes reveal a homosexual relationship between the pair. This paper will present the results of our re-examination of the wall decoration in the tomb in which we have noted a significant number of paired images where one scene or motif 'mirrors' another, e.g. two Tilapia niloticus speared by Khnumhotep in the portico and chapel; double lions and black kites in room 2; pairs of donkeys that carry the men into room 4, etc. Many of these details are either the first known example in an elite tomb context or are images that are exclusive to this tomb. We propose that the frequency and placement of these dualities may be interpreted as visual puns that allude to the tomb owners' relationship. Such information adds further support to the hypothesis that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were identical twins, who celebrated this aspect of their lives visually through repeated references in doubled and mirrored images.

AB - The mid-Fifth Dynasty tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep at Saqqara has been the subject of considerable debate regarding the relationship between its owners. Most studies to date have focused on specific wall scenes where the two men touch one another in a deeply affectionate manner - both holding hands and embracing. The intimacy implied by such gestures has led to much speculation about their relationship. The behaviour represented has been interpreted in different ways: some scholars have suggested that the two were simply brothers and show filial affection, others have instead proposed that they were twins, ranging from identical to conjoined siblings; while a third hypothesis is that the scenes reveal a homosexual relationship between the pair. This paper will present the results of our re-examination of the wall decoration in the tomb in which we have noted a significant number of paired images where one scene or motif 'mirrors' another, e.g. two Tilapia niloticus speared by Khnumhotep in the portico and chapel; double lions and black kites in room 2; pairs of donkeys that carry the men into room 4, etc. Many of these details are either the first known example in an elite tomb context or are images that are exclusive to this tomb. We propose that the frequency and placement of these dualities may be interpreted as visual puns that allude to the tomb owners' relationship. Such information adds further support to the hypothesis that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were identical twins, who celebrated this aspect of their lives visually through repeated references in doubled and mirrored images.

KW - Ancient Egyptian Art

KW - Egyptology

KW - ancient egyptian iconography

M3 - Abstract

SP - 15

ER -

Evans L, Woods A. Entwined lives: more evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins. 2014. Abstract from The Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014), Sydney, .