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Encounters, Affects and Intra-actions: Difracting the Theban Tomb 123


In archaeology, the methods of data collection, analysis and interpretation, at least in the most traditional and hegemonic currents, are marked by the idea that the world is composed of individual entities, each one with specific and separated properties. In order to question this model, I will use the concept of Diffraction proposed by Haraway and Barad, to understand how different encounters over time actualized Theban Tomb 123, located in the plain of Sheikh Abdel Qurna, in Luxor, Egypt. The first encounter to be analysed is the encounter between Amenemhet with TT123 in the Pharaonic period (1479–1425 BC). The second involves encounters between TT123 with Qurnawis, a community that between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries used the pharaonic tombs on the West Bank of Luxor as housing. Finally, I will analyse the encounters between archaeologists with TT123. Thinking about these different encounters shows us that this space that archaeologists call TT 123, rather than being a fixed materiality, is a transitory materiality and meeting point of different ontologies.


En archéologie, les méthodes de collecte, d'analyse et d'interprétation des données, du moins dans les courants les plus traditionnels et hégémoniques, sont marquées par l'idée que le monde est composé d'entités individuelles, chacune ayant des propriétés spécifiques et séparées. Afin de questionner ce modèle, j'utiliserai le concept de Diffraction proposé par Haraway et Barad, pour comprendre comment différentes rencontres ont mis à jour une tombe thébaine 123, située dans la plaine de Sheikh Abdel Qurna, à Louxor, en Égypte au fil du temps. La première rencontre à analyser est celle d'Amenemhet avec TT123 à l'époque pharaonique (1479 – 1425 av. J.-C.). La seconde implique des rencontres entre TT123 et Qurnawis, une communauté qui, entre le XVIIIe et le XXe siècle, a utilisé les tombes pharaoniques de la rive ouest de Louxor comme logement. Enfin, j'analyserai les rencontres entre archéologues avec TT123. Réfléchir à ces différentes rencontres nous montre que cet espace que les archéologues appellent TT 123, plutôt qu'une matérialité figée, est une matérialité transitoire et point de rencontre de différentes ontologies.


En arqueología, los métodos de recolección, análisis e interpretación de datos, al menos en las corrientes más tradicionales y hegemónicas, están marcados por la idea de que el mundo está compuesto por entidades individuales, cada una con propiedades específicas y separadas. Para cuestionar este modelo, usaré el concepto de Difracción propuesto por Haraway y Barad, para comprender cómo diferentes encuentros han actualizado una Tumba Tebana 123, ubicada en la llanura de Sheikh Abdel Qurna, en Luxor, Egipto a lo largo del tiempo. El primer encuentro a analizar es el encuentro de Amenemhet con TT123 en el período faraónico (1479 – 1425 aC). El segundo consiste en encuentros de TT123 con Qurnawis, una comunidad que entre los siglos XVIII y XX utilizó como vivienda las tumbas faraónicas de Luxor. Finalmente, analizaré los encuentros entre arqueólogos con TT123. Pensar en estos diferentes encuentros nos muestra que este espacio que los arqueólogos denominan TT 123, más que una materialidad fija, es una materialidad transitoria y punto de encuentro de diferentes ontologías.

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I would like to thank Caroline Murta Lemos and Mariana Petry Cabral for reading the article and for their suggestions.

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Pellini, J.R. Encounters, Affects and Intra-actions: Difracting the Theban Tomb 123. Arch 18, 338–369 (2022).

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Key Word

  • Diffraction
  • Ontological Turn
  • Barad
  • Egypt