Bulletin of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan
Online ISSN : 1884-1406
Print ISSN : 0030-5219
Functions of Funerary Cones Reconsidered
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2010 Volume 52 Issue 2 Pages 108-124


Funerary cones have been regarded as items akin to passports, tomb markers, architectural ornaments, symbolically expressed architectural beams, symbolic offerings of bread to the deceased, and a symbol for the sun. The last option has recently become one of the most influential hypotheses―scholars such as Eggebrecht and Al-Thibi have fully or partly supported the idea. For example, Al-Thibi insisted that ‘[t]he m3‘-ḫrw formulations, either alone or in combination disappear before the reign of Amenhotep III, and this might be seen as a move away from a very obvious Osirian connection of the funerary cones to one where solar associations are more common’ (Al-Thibi 2005, 51.).
 This paper, however, rejects the hypothesis. First, as can be seen in fig. 10, the Osirian connection became stronger over time; in contrast, solar associations had been weak in every period examined (fig. 11). In addition, there are many examples of white-coated cones that have solar-connected texts with a circular outline, stamped on a circular base. For Egyptians, the sun is not white, but rather red or yellow. Thus, the notion that the cones were symbols of the sun is doubtful.
 To sum up, this paper argues the following points:
1. Cones have a long history; therefore, it is better to discuss their functions by date.
2. Though there were changes in neither the average diameter of the seals nor the average number of columns (figs. 6 & 7), the number of titles inscribed on the cones declined (fig. 5) because
A. the dividers used became more common,
B. there was information on relatives, and
C. Osirian associations were inscribed instead.
3. According to my figure, solar associations were relatively rare, so the hypothesis that cones are symbols of the sun is doubtful.

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© 2010 The Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan
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