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Consider the sentence

Why did the Egyptians not develop sculpture in which the body turned and twisted through space like classical Greek statuary?

Could someone please explain the use of "in which" here, and paraphrase this sentence. Thanks.

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2 Answers 2

In which: which after a preposition is

a determiner used to refer to something previously mentioned when introducing a clause giving further information.

ODO

In your example sentence, which refers to the Egyptians' sculpture, and in means the following clause describes an intrinsic characteristic of it.

To remove in which unambiguously, the entire sentence needs to be recast to describe the Greek sculptures first and then link the Egyptians to that:

Classical Greek statuary had bodies which turned and twisted through space. Why did the Egyptians not develop sculpture like that?

There are shorter but more ambiguous methods, like replacing in which with where:

Why did the Egyptians not develop sculpture where the body turned and twisted through space like classical Greek statuary?

Here, the body is only linked to Egyptian sculpture by context. You might use that, perhaps:

Why did the Egyptians not develop sculpture that turned and twisted the body through space like classical Greek statuary?

Again, the body could refer to the observer's body, that it's necessary to turn and twist one's own body in order to view the Greek sculpture. That's a rather ridiculous concept, so it's understood that the body in question is the depicted body in the sculpture, but using in which removes the ambiguity altogether by definitively linking the body to the sculpture.

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The usage of "in which" in the quote you supplied can be replaced by "where" without altering the meaning.

Therefore:

Why did the Egyptians not develop a sculpture where the body turned and twisted through space like classical Greek statuary?

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