The mission of the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures is the discovery, interpretation, dissemination, and preservation of human values created over a period of five or more thousand years in an area that was the cradle of all civilization.
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
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In the last two centuries before the arrival of Alexander the Great, Persia invaded Egypt twice and administered it as a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. Although the Ptolemies later demonized the Persians, and most traces of their rule were systematically removed, the history of this fascinating period can be reconstructed thanks to written sources from different languages (hieroglyphic, Demotic, Aramaic, Old Persian, Greek) and the multicultural archaeological record. These periods of foreign domination helped solidify Egypt's national identity during the intervening Late Period (Dynasties 28-30) and set the stage for subsequent centuries of Greek and Roman rule.
In Egyptian funerary practices, trials composed a crucial phase through which the deceased had to pass in order to become “justified”—that is, worthy of entering the hereafter. The trials featured in Book of the Dead spells 18 and 20 are representative, the most popular pictorial representation of the judgment after death being the vignette of BD spell 125, the spell proper of which provides a text that summarizes Egyptian ethical standards. There is reason to consider that the text may stem from priestly initiation oaths.
The transition between the 18th and 19th Dynasties, a period beginning with the reign of Aye and concluding with the reign of Sety I, represents the conclusion to the tumultuous Amarna Period and the beginning of the stability and prosperity of the following Ramesside Period. The rule of individuals coming from non-royal families—Aye, Horemheb, and Ramesses I—gives way to a strong dynastic succession with Sety I. Limited monumental construction during the short reigns of Aye and Ramesses I can be contrasted with the extensive building at Karnak during the reign of Horemheb and the impressive construction program of Sety I throughout Egypt. Foreign policy in Syria-Palestine and Nubia during the reign of Sety I reinforce Egypt’s imperial domination of those regions, and larger geo-political conflicts are dominated by the rise of the Hittite Empire. In the cultural sphere, the transition between the 18th and 19th Dynasties reversed the revolutionary changes enacted by Akhenaten, although traces of that period remained in artistic representation, the expression of personal piety, and even the language of monumental inscriptions.