Color photograph of a light skinned man with dark hair holding a book and pointing to something in it

Nicola Barbagli

Franco Zeffirelli Italian Fellow
1 settembre–27 ottobre 2023
Scholar, Florence
Titolo del progetto
Domitian as Pharoah: The Hieroglyphic Inscriptions of the Pamphilj Obelisk
Descrizione del progetto

The temples of Egypt feature hundreds of texts which conceptualize the Roman emperors in the traditional terms of Egyptian kingship. The Pamphilj obelisk, today standing on top of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona, is one of the few monuments with hieroglyphic royal inscriptions which from the outset were intended to be erected outside that country. My project aims to provide a new study of the Pamphilj obelisk as an expression of imperial patronage and power resulting from the interaction between Domitian and Egyptian priests. This work will represent an important contribution to Roman studies, as it addresses the question of the original context of the obelisk, its intended purpose, and the meaning of its contents, ultimately contributing to further our understanding of the relationship between the Roman and Egyptian cultures. A new analysis of such an important document, commissioned by the emperor himself, will be relevant also for Egyptology, as it can throw light on local developments of Egyptian kingship and the literary culture of the priests who authored the text.