April 2013

Assorted Documentaries About Ancient Egypt

J’s parents have Sky and so have TV channels that we don’t, so they record anything about Ancient Egypt that they notice & then we watch several of the documentaries when we visit. I’m not going to write these up in detail, instead here are some capsule reviews. I wasn’t always paying full attention to the programmes, so I’ve possibly misremembered stuff. Ramesses III: Behind the Myth of the Pharaoh Programme about the harem conspiracy against Ramesses III which led to his murder, and the resulting trial & execution of the conspirators. Focussed on how the papyri tell us a very different story to what the monuments do – the court of Ramesses III was a paranoid one concerned with threats to the Pharaoh and his authority both magical & physical. The monuments are the confident record of a Pharaoh with no enemies, and a secure succession, so if there… Read More »Assorted Documentaries About Ancient Egypt

“Farming & Agriculture in the Nile Valley” Victor Blunden (EEG Meeting Talk)

Victor Blunden’s talk at the EEG meeting this Sunday wasn’t called “What the Ordinary Ancient Egyptian Did All Day” but I think that would’ve been a pretty good alternative title 🙂 Early on his talk he pointed out that 90% of the population of Ancient Egypt were peasant farmers, who grew the food that the country survived on. I thought this was particularly good timing for this talk because we’d just been watching Joann Fletcher’s programmes on the BBC about Kha and Merit, where she was referring to them as “ordinary Egyptians” and I felt they were high status even if they weren’t part of the elite. So here was a talk about the real ordinary Egyptians, focussing on their farming methods. Blunden opened his talk by discussing how the Egyptians divided the year into three seasons – the inundation (ahket, June-Sept), the growing season (peret, Oct-Jan) and the harvest… Read More »“Farming & Agriculture in the Nile Valley” Victor Blunden (EEG Meeting Talk)

Ancient Egypt – Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings

The second part of Joann Fletcher’s series about Kha and Merit who were buried in Deir el-Medina 3500 years ago covered their deaths, burials and beliefs about the afterlife. She opened the programme by explaining that death was the major employer in Deir el-Medina, and that country-wide it was one of the primary industries of Egypt. The village at Deir el-Medina was inhabited by the craftsmen and their families who worked on the tombs and temples for the Pharaohs. But it wasn’t just Pharaohs who were believed to live on after death – it was anyone who’d made the right preparations, and who’d had the right rituals performed at their funerals. So even relatively ordinary Egyptians would spend as much as they could on getting the right things said & done. If I have one criticism of this programme it’s that Fletcher kept referring to Kha as “an ordinary Egyptian”… Read More »Ancient Egypt – Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings