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Terenouthis, Egypt


Director: Enoch E. Peterson

Painted niche of Anubis, god of the dead, at Terenouthis. KM 2.9015.

Concurrent with the excavation at Karanis, Peterson led a preliminary expedition to the Ptolemaic-Roman site of Soknopaiou Nesos (the modern Dimé) in 1931 and to Terenouthis in 1935.

Terenouthis, the modern Kom Abou Billou, was excavated during one short season. The site produced 200 funerary stelae of the late 2nd century, dated by inscriptions and iconography. The stelae continue the often syncretistic iconographic traditions of Egypt and suggest relationships between later materials and the earlier funerary art of Egypt. Although rudimentarily executed, the stelae reveal a wealth of information not only about pagan and early Christian symbolism and craftsmanship but also about sociological factors. The average age of death, for instance, at Kom Abou Billou was 32.88, with a much lower percentage of women than men surviving between 15 and 45 years. In fact, the average age of those who survived childhood was 28.49 for women and 36.89 for men. The most common epitaph read “died prematurely.”