Decoding Signs of Identity: Egyptian Workmen’s Marks


Egyptian workmen’s marks in archaeological, historical, comparative and theoretical perspective

International conference, Leiden, 13-15 December 2013

Venue: Gravensteen and Lipsius buildings, Leiden University

The conference is part of the research project Symbolizing Identity. Identity marks and their relation to writing in New Kingdom Egypt, which is financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and carried out at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University. The conference will be hosted by LIAS from 13 to 15 December 2013. Topics include non-textual identity marks in Ancient Egypt, in particular the system employed by the workmen of the royal necropolis of the New Kingdom at Thebes, as well as comparable marking systems in other cultures and periods, historical and archaeological backgrounds, and theoretical and comparative aspects. The conference is organised in four different sessions and will be closed with a panel discussion.

Attendance is free, but seating is limited. Please register by sending an email before December 1st to:





Comparative studies

Jean-Louis van Belle (Centre International de Recherches Glyptographiques)
Marques emblématiques, marques monogrammatiques: un choix, deux logiques (Belgique, Espagne, France, XIIe- XVIIIe)

Kamil Kuraszkiewicz (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Marks on the faience tiles from the “Blue Chambers” of the Netjerykhet’s funerary complex

Maria Nilsson (Lunds Universitet)
Quarry Marks in Gebel el Silsila – signifiers of men and gods alike?

Nico Staring (Macquarie University, Sydney)
New Kingdom non-textual tomb-graffiti at Saqqara

Athena van der Perre (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
Marking the ceilings: the quarries of the Amarna Period

Anna Wodzinska (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Pot marks from the workmen’s village at Giza. Social and economic implications

Joám Evans Pim (Galiza, Academia Galega da Língua Portuguesa)
Contemporary Marking Systems in Europe and South America

Dirk de Vries (Universiteit Leiden)
Signs Seen From Above


The Theban necropolis and its administration

Dimitri Laboury (Université Liège)
Communication marks in the context of artistic production. The case of the elite tombs in the Theban necropolis of the 18th dynasty.

Kathrin Gabler (Universität München)
The service personnel of Deir el-Medina: Methods of identification

Rob Demarée (Universiteit Leiden)
Who’s the boss?

Jaana Toivari-Viitala (Helsingin Yliopisto)
Administration at high places?

Theoretical aspects

Wolfgang Behr (Universität Zürich)
Multiple, shared and individual identities in emergent Chinese writing: symptoms, diagnosis and etiology (with some comparative notes on Naxi and Shaba writing)

Ludwig Morenz (Universität Bonn)
Title to be announced

Kyra van der Moezel (Universiteit Leiden)
Identity marks from Deir el-Medina: a theoretical approach

Alex de Voogt (American Museum of Natural History)
Numbers that don’t count: historical and experimental evidence of “numbered signs”

Oliver Timken Perrin (United States, Independent Researcher)
Marks & Behavioral Integration: From Scent Marks to Contemporary Brand Insignia


Identity marks in the Theban royal necropolis

Mark Collier (University of Liverpool)
Integrating hieratic and marks data for the prosopography of 20th dynasty workmen: Of Neferhoteps, Meryres and beyond

Sławomir Rzepka (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Dating of ‘funny signs’ in Theban rock graffiti

Ben Haring (Universiteit Leiden)
The necropolis workmen’s marks and their use: where do we stand?

Daniel Soliman (Universiteit Leiden)
The functional context of Ramesside marks ostraca from Deir el-Medina

Discussion panel