Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History


Egyptian Art and Archaeology

Committee Chair

Lorelei Corcoran

Committee Member

Suzanne Onstine

Committee Member

Joshua Roberson


Statues of males and females, usually of husbands and wives, first appear during Egypt’s Old Kingdom from the Fourth through Sixth Dynasty (2649 - 2150 BCE). Known as “pair statues” or “dyads,” the two individuals are seated or standing beside one another. In most instances, the female touches or holds her male counterpart, which may or may not be reciprocated by the male figure. Research has shed much light on royal dyads, like those of the pharaoh Menkaure (4th Dynasty). However, non-royal dyads have not yet received adequate attention, except in cases where scholars discuss size variations of the individuals in relation to representations of their gender. Scholars such as Ann Roth, Gay Robins, and Lynn Meskell have argued that the size variation between males and females represented in two-dimensional and three-dimensional art is due to a hierarchical system of gender representation in which the male is shown larger due to his higher importance in comparison to a woman. However, through a comparison of a collection of non-royal dyads, my research suggests that gender and hierarchical scale were not directly linked as previous scholars have argued. Data obtained through museum catalogues and excavation reports will be analyzed in order to statistically quantify various aspects of these pair statues. The collection of dyads will be evaluated utilizing art historical methods of comparative analysis in conjunction with ‘daily-life’ scenes so that an understanding of their function can be concluded. By comparing scenes and dyads found in a funerary context, interpretations regarding the rebirth of the male individual can be reached. Research will rely on funerary texts and the individual’s mode of representing their self in order to make conclusions regarding the female’s participation in her male counterpart’s regeneration. This study will argue that the placement of these dyads in the serdabs of mastabas was purposefully chosen because of the importance of the family and their relationship to the tomb. I will also argue, based upon previous theories, that the representation of the embrace made by females towards males functioned as a form of sexual excitation utilized by the man during his rebirth. The general purpose of this analysis will be to reach an understanding of the function and form of non-royal dyads.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.