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PhD defence

La crémation dans l'Alexandrie grecque et romaine

  • C.I.V. Harlaut
Tuesday 13 September 2022
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. M.J. Versluys


This research aims to study the practice of cremation in Alexandria and Graeco-Roman Egypt, through the examination of its cinerary urns.

Our corpus, which brings together a little more than one thousand objects, includes both ceramic and stone vases, designed as cinerary urns, but also many vases from the domestic and sometimes civic/religious sphere, diverted from their primary use and reused in necropolises, as well as a group of Pharaonic alabaster vases, adopted and reinterpreted in Roman times.

Re-examination of the necropolises and tombs in which these urns have been unearthed since the 19th century has shed new light on the categories of people concerned by this practice, whether it is a personal choice of anonymous individuals or a custom of the Ptolemaic state for people whose funerals were supported by the Crown.

Analysis of anthropological data from a selection of Alexandrian cinerary urns has made it possible to reconstruct a theoretical framework on the various stages of the funeral ceremony, from the construction of the pyre to the collection of the bone remains and deposition in the grave.

Finally, elaborating a typo-chronological study of these urns enabled us to determine four major periods along which the frequency and methods of cremation evolved, between the foundation of Alexandria and the 2nd century AD.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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