The subject of this work is the way that symbolism operates in official representations of the pharaohs' sons and daughters, during the historical period widely known as the NewKingdom (1550-1069 BC). The use of symbols in different expressions of Egyptian culturehas been widely mentioned, and has been discussed from many different angles. Scholarshave also analysed the identity and function of various royal children through historical and genealogical works. However, there has been little attempt to associate general ideas about visual and verbal symbolism with a socially homogeneous group such as the royal children.
My work therefore aims to explore and explain what lies beneath the choice, the variation and the evolution of symbols used in the royal children's iconography and imagery. The area of Egyptian culture that was most affected by this symbolism is essentially the royal ideology. In the course of the five chapters of my thesis I explain not only the role of royal children in analogies between divine and royal families, but also how the royal children became an official link between the king and leading non-royals.
Despite the variety of the evidence on royal children in materials, contexts and character, this work concentrates on princely representations that agreed with the standard principles of official Egyptian art and are evidently connected with elements of the official Egyptian New Kingdom world-view. In order to focus this thesis purely on the study of material relating to living royal children, I have decided to retain the data already collected on funerary princely representations for use in a later analytical study.
A major part of the thesis aims at establishing a methodology in which modem content analysis methods are combined and then applied to the evidence. Elements of literature theory, theory of mythology and semiotics are blended and applied to the evidence, producing an analysis extending from visual observations to deeper interpretive categorizations. As the official representations of royal children are linked to divine mythological prototypes, it is argued that such imagery is generally inspired by ideas deeprooted in the Egyptian thought and expressed through cosmogonies. Deviation from the prototypes (designated here as mythologems) might indicate a social need for personal display, which surpasses the ideas about established roles in the cosmos.