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Harem

Abstract

In Egyptological research, the term “harem” (harim) comprises a conglomerate of phenomena, which can be distinguished as: 1) the community of women and children who belonged to the royalhousehold; 2) related institutions, including administrative organizations and personnel; and 3) associated localities and places, like palaces and royal apartments, as well as agricultural land and manufacturing workshops. Key functions of this so-called royal harem can be identified as the residence and stage for the court of the royal women, the place for the upbringing and education of the royal children and favored non-royal children as the future ruling class, the provision of musical performance in courtly life and cult, as well as the supply and provisioning of the royal family. Related Egyptian terms include ipet (from Dynasty 1 onwards), khenere(t) (from the Old Kingdom), and per kheneret (New Kingdom). The compounds ipet nesut and kheneret (en) nesut, commonly “royalharem,” are attested as early as the Old Kingdom. Only a few sources testify to the existence of the royal harem after the 20th Dynasty.

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