Cornell University Press

Julia Troche on the Old and Middle Kingdoms of Ancient Egypt

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We asked author Julia Troche three questions about her new book, Death, Power, and Apotheosis in Ancient Egypt, and her research on the history of Egypt.

What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

While preparing a course I was co-teaching with my colleague Dr. Brinkman that took place, in part, in the British Museum, I came upon the False Door of Ptahshepses (EA682) which features notably in a philological discussion in my book. The stela’s inscription evinces the apotheosis of a deceased man named Djedi. I spend pages analyzing particular epithets and spellings in its inscription, but this false door, which stands over twelve feet tall, completely overwhelmed me with its physicality. Teaching from this artifact was transformative. It compounded for me its materiality and experiential nature, and brought this esoteric evidence alive. 

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

This is my first book, so I approached the publication process with such trepidation. I realize this experience may be different for others, of course, but for me the process was so incredibly supportive and critical and instructive. My editor was patient and knowledgeable. My peer reviewers went above and beyond offering truly constructive feedback. And everyone else—the copy editors, typesetters, marketing team, etc.—were similarly encouraging and brilliant. Next time, I definitely will not be so tentative starting the process.  

3. How do you wish you could change your field of study?

I wish I could change our field to be quicker to embrace compassion, change, and inclusion. My book considers how power was constructed and maintained, systemically, and how it was transgressed and negotiated through individual and group action. Our field is in a moment of power negotiation, both in terms of systemic issues (racism, lack of TT jobs, closing programs) and in terms of new ways of “doing” ancient history (e.g. digital). Instead of fighting over limited, traditional resources, we can choose to be mentors, advocates, and accomplices, finding new resources and metrics by which to lift up our fields.

Featured photo: Abu Simbel Temples, Egypt. Credit: AussieActive.

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