History as Festival? A Reassessment of the Use of the Past and the Place of Historiography in Ancient Egyptian Thought

This chapter outlines the current state of the quest for historiography in ancient Near Eastern studies, and then revisits the concept that was to explain the absence of historiography in Egypt, and finally to focus on a textual and societal milieu in which a nucleus of Egyptian historiography can be situated. The hypothesis of a pervasive concept of “history as festival” proposes an interpretive model for specific Egyptian texts and depictions. The chapter sketches briefly the immediate prehistory of Horemheb's reign as the backdrop of his political agenda and presents evidence that will allow us to assess Horemheb's view of the past. In contrast to the idea of history as a festival, key sources here show the display of singular history, the use of history as an example and an argument, and the idea of sucessive (rather than ritually uniform) history that could even serve as a reference for time-counting.