Thesis Defense Announcement
College of Communication and Fine Arts announces the Final Thesis Defense of
for the Degree of Master of Art
March 28, 2022 at 11:00 AM in Art and Communication Building
Advisor: Dr. Joshua Aaron Roberson
The Fifth Direction: Retrograde Writing in the Tomb of Nefertari (QV 66)
ABSTRACT: "The reading direction of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs is typically indicated by signs which exhibit an asymmetric morphology, characteristic of animates. The “attention” of signs is oriented toward the beginning of a text. Thus, hieroglyphs oriented rightward are read from right to left, and hieroglyphs oriented leftward, are read from left to right. This is true of texts written in horizontal rows or in vertical columns. In addition to these four reading directions, there is a fifth direction, the so-called “retrograde” direction. A retrograde direction is read in reverse of the direction indicated by the signs; instead of being oriented toward the beginning of a text, the signs are oriented toward the end. This reading direction is typically found in religious compositions, like the Book of the Dead. Early theories concerning possible uses(s) of the Book of the Dead informed interpretations on the use of retrograde writing. In the New Kingdom tomb of Nefertari (QV 66), spells from the Book of the Dead were written selectively in retrograde. My thesis examines possible motivations behind this practice in the context of QV 66 and offers a reappraisal of earlier scholars’ approaches to its decoration."