Mariam Ayad, Associate Professor of Egyptology, The American University in Cairo Visiting Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Near Eastern Religions Research Associate of the Women’s Studies in Religion Program (2020-21) Harvard Divinity School
One of the best documented Egyptian rituals—occurring in both cultic and funerary contexts—is known as the Opening of the Mouth ritual. Performing this ritual was believed to animate statues and temples, while also restoring the senses of the deceased, thus ensuring that they could eat, drink, and breathe in the afterlife. Textual and iconographic references to the ritual are found in different time periods, from the Old Kingdom through the Roman Period. In this lecture, Mariam Ayad uses the Opening of the Mouth ritual as a case study to illustrate the power of imagery and the efficacy of the spoken word as performative aspects of Egyptian funerary practice.
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About the Speaker
Mariam Ayad is an Associate Professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo. She studied Egyptology at The American University in Cairo (BA), the University of Toronto (MA), and Brown University, where she obtained her PhD in 2003. From 2003 to 2010, Ayad served as Assistant Director of the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at the University of Memphis (Tennessee), where she was an Assistant, then a tenured Associate Professor of Egyptology and Art History. At the American University in Cairo, Ayad teaches Middle Egyptian grammar (Egyptian hieroglyphics), Egyptian Literature (read in translation), and Coptic, as well as graduate seminars on Egypt in the first millennium BC, Nubian cultures and society, and ancient Egyptian women in temple ritual. For the 2020–21 academic year, Ayad is Visiting Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Near Eastern Religions and Research Associate in Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School. She is currently exploring the impact of class and gender on ancient Egyptian conceptions of death, revival, and the afterlife.