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PROCESSIONS IN EGYPT: INTERACTION AND CONTINUITY, FROM GRECO-ROMAN ANTIQUITY UNTIL TODAY

Procession is a diachronic common aspect in a wide variety of ceremonies in the Mediterranean. As a collective ritual we can recognize it in sporadic and regular religious feasts, in order to abolish the boundary between the sacred place and the profane space surrounding it. It also stress shared beliefs, reinforces group cohesion and reaffirms community identity. From the religious point of view, it accomplishes a collective ritual for receive benediction and expose its faith. The funerary corteges and weeding processions, seeks to add sacred paint to at least two of the most important moments of individual life. We can also mention the triumphal and national parades origin that goes to the ancient time when the frontier between politic and religion were still blurred and unstable.

PROCESSIONS IN GREECE AND EGYPT BEFORE THE HELLENISTIC PERIOD (Figs. 102-113) Processions98 have traditionally been an integral part of religious life in ancient Egypt and classical Greece. As an event that attracts crowds, it is among the most visible religious activities in public spaces and by consequence one of the most frequently cited elements of ritual. In ancient Egyptian language, terms for procession mean literally: “the god or ruler to appear” and “a coming forth”. The daily worship took place inside the temples where the public was not allowed; the processional festivals were the only occasion that the public was invited to participate. The most ancient evidence date to Middle Kingdom is the procession of the god Osiris during the Khoiak festival at Abydos. Evidence of numbers of these feast are recorded as the Beautiful Feast of the Valley, the Hassawanarti island feast, the procession of Min, the Osirian festivals etc. 98

The term procession derived from Latin processio, from procedere that means to go forth, advance and proceed. Accordingly it refers to a specific kind of movement from one location to another more advanced. This meaning can be symbolic or physical according to the context. In the ritual and ceremonial context a procession “is the linearly ordered, solemn movement of a group through chartered space to a known destination to give witness, bear an esteemed object, perform a rite, fulfill a vow, gain merit, or visit a shrine”. According to this definition a procession is a formal affair involving stately lines of individuals, it is a public performance that occupies a specific time and space in order to proclaim a position or/and accomplish a ritual. Procession is always collective endeavors and a spectacle, so it falls into the public realm by incorporating individuals beyond one’s regular quotidian social sphere. The elements of the procession are the group of the faithful, the movement and its rhythms, the sacred and the profane environment, and the performance, see Eliade, 1995, 1-3.

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Final study of CulMe-WeOnCT project  
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