Bes and Taweret: Reconstructing Household Religion in Middle Kingdom Egypt


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This thesis investigates domestic religious practices in Middle Kingdom Egypt through the lens of two statues of household gods, Bes and Taweret. To further understand these gods, their statues, and their function in the domestic religious practices of the non-elite, I develop a nuanced definition of personal piety within the Middle Kingdom. An examination of the historical context of the Middle Kingdom reveals how political and cultural context led the non-elite to reach for religious practices outside of the official cult. I analyzed the Middle Kingdom pyramid workmen’s town of Lahun as the primary case study of domestic architecture utilized by the non-elite with references to the later New Kingdom sites of Deir el-Medina and Tell el-Amarna. I then examined cult installations within domestic architecture, such as altars, offering tables, wall niches, and wall paintings. I used these cult installations as a means of understanding the purpose of personal religion, magical and medical practices, and cult objects of Bes and Taweret.