Photo: Rune Østigård
Welcome to my homepage. I am a researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala University, Sweden. I have conducted fieldworks in Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Jordan, India, Nepal and Palestine. My main research interests are death rituals and cremations, water and religion, and political archaeology.
I am currently working on the project "Rainmaking and Climate Change in Tanzania: Traditions, Rituals and Globalisation", and I will continue working with the project "The Source" in Ethiopia as well as with other Nile Basin related topics.
"An archaeology of the Pharaonic Nile and the rise of the Egyptian civilisation - Comparing religious water-worlds in history"
Principal objective and sub-goals:
The main objective of the project is to develop a synthetic perspective for enhancing the understanding of the religious roles water had in the rise and constitution of the Egyptian civilisation during the Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom in the Delta area. To achieve this goal I will
a) synthesise archaeological material and paleobotanic/geoarchaeological data,
b) include the contemporary written sources (flood records and mortuary texts),
c) compare the spatial distribution of pyramids and funerary temples in relation to the river Nile, its fluctuations, and floods, and
d) analyse how, why, and when religious changes took place, with a particular emphasis on the development of the Osiris cult.
There have been two dominant theories regarding the rise of the early civilisations: 1) large-scale irrigation systems gave rise to despotic and bureaucratic states, and 2) population increase in a restricted area such as the Nile valley led to warfare and subsequently to hierarchies and the rise of civilisation. Neither of these theories is capable of explaining the empirical evidence and the historical development in Egypt.
The irrigation systems were relatively primitive and organised at a local rather than at a state level during the third millennium BCE, and the centralised government was more concerned with collecting taxes, displaying royal power and religious institutions than irrigation. This puts the emphasis on water.
Egypt is described as the "Gift of the Nile". The life-giving water was essential not only for the economy, but also as a constitutive part of the ancient Egyptians' religious worldview. The world's largest pyramids at Giza in Cairo are spectacular monuments ofdeath. Osiris was both the god of death and the Nile flood, and the god unifies life, death, and water. Therefore, the main objective of the project is to develop a synthetic perspective for enhancing the understanding of the religious role water had in the rise and constitution of the Egyptian civilisation during the Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom (ca. 3000-2130 BCE) in the Delta area.
"Death and Life-Giving Waters. Cremation, Caste, and Cosmogony in Karmic Traditions"
"Holy Water after the Reformation - The Works of God or the Devil?"
as part of the Research group Understanding the Role of Water in History and Development at The Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, University of Oslo, Norway, autumn 2008.