The enigma of the pleated dress: new insights from Early Dynastic Helwan reliefs

Jana Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Recent study of Early Dynastic funerary relief slabs (or stelae) from the Memphite necropolis at Helwan has uncovered new evidence that addresses long-standing issues regarding the horizontally pleated, long-sleeved V-necked dress. The dress appears with surprising frequency in the archaeological record, but until now was not known from Egyptian monuments. The iconographic evidence on Second Dynasty Helwan reliefs showing tomb owners wearing dresses with short, pleated sleeves redresses this lacuna and challenges the notion that the dress was restricted to low status burials at provincial sites. The study has revealed a marked anomaly between the Early Dynastic period and the Old and Middle Kingdoms in relation to the demographic distribution of the dress and status of the individuals. Furthermore, the Early Dynastic 'linen lists' show that the dress appears in large numbers amongst the textile offerings. New interpretations of the transliteration and writing of the 'dress' sign are offered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-231
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Egyptian Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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