Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Peter Brand

Committee Member

Suzanne L. Onstine

Committee Member

Benjamin Graham

Committee Member

Joshua A. Roberson


This dissertation is a study of ancient Egyptian conceptions of dirtiness. While the subjects of ritual purity and taboo in ancient Egypt have been examined in Egyptological studies, less attention has been paid to understanding the general conceptions of dirtiness and impurity in the day to day, mundane lives of the ancient Egyptians, including its role in social distinctions. This is partly because Egyptian texts, while frequently mentioning purity, often in a ritual or cultic context, usually do not state or explain exactly what is defiling or dirty. Rather than another study of ritual purity or taboo, this dissertation attempts to examine what the Egyptians considered to be dirty or impure in “everyday” life and how they reacted to it. The primary focus of this study is on dirt as a material substance rather than the metaphorical uses of the concept, and the study is primarily lexically focused, as it is an attempt to understand the meaning and nuances of the words that the ancient Egyptians used to refer to or describe what they considered dirty. Categories of words related to dirtiness examined in this study include soil and earth, bodily dirtiness, putrefaction, foul odors, and disgust.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access