Margaret

“Egyptologists’ Notebooks: How the Modern World Rediscovered Ancient Egypt (And Partly Lost It Again)” Dr Chris Naunton

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At the beginning of September Chris Naunton gave a talk to the Essex Egyptology Group via Zoom about his new book “Egyptologist’s Notebooks” (which is coming out at the beginning of October). He described his talk as “not quite, but nearly, a shameless plug” for his book – what he wanted to do during the talk was tell us a little bit about some of the characters he explores in the book and the main themes he wanted to draw out. He said the idea for the book came from discussion a couple of years ago with Ben Hayes at Thames & Hudson publishers – they’d previously published a book called “Explorers’ Sketchbooks”, which published bits of said sketchbooks as part of compiling the history of explorers and exploration. And so Hayes wondered if something similar could be done for Egyptology, given the extensive archives that exist from several early… Read More »“Egyptologists’ Notebooks: How the Modern World Rediscovered Ancient Egypt (And Partly Lost It Again)” Dr Chris Naunton

“The Lighter Side of Egypt with the Art of Lance Thackeray” Lee Young

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At the beginning of August Lee Young gave a talk via Zoom to the Essex Egyptology Group about the artist Lance Thackeray. Young is an independent researcher whose interests are primarily in the archaeological artists in Egypt, particularly the women. She said that most of the time she gives talks about people who have had a major contribution to Egyptology – this is debatable in the case of Lance Thackeray but he certainly made people laugh and be interested in Egypt! In this talk Young was covering three different aspects of her subject – Lance Thackeray the man, Lance Thackeray’s art (in particular from his book “The Light Side of Egypt”) and early tourism in Egypt which was the subject of Thackeray’s art. She began by sketching out the early life of Thackeray before moving on to include the other two subjects. Lance Thackeray would need no introduction to postcard… Read More »“The Lighter Side of Egypt with the Art of Lance Thackeray” Lee Young

“Pyramids and Elephants: the Kingdom of Meroë” Robert Morkot

At the beginning of July Robert Morkot gave a talk to the Essex Egyptology Group (and guests) via Zoom. He’d previously visited us to talk about the 25th Dynasty of Egypt who were from Kush, and this talk followed on from that to tell us about the culture in what is now Sudan after the 25th Dynasty were forced from Egypt in the mid-1st Millennium BCE. Morkot explained that he wanted to give us an overview of a huge span of time (from 700 BCE to 350 CE), and show us lots of photos of Meroitic artifacts. Not much modern work is being done on the culture of Meroë compared to Egypt – many of the people who work on the region come from Egyptology and tend to work on New Kingdom sites in North Sudan. He began by giving us the geographical context of Kush and Meroë, and talked… Read More »“Pyramids and Elephants: the Kingdom of Meroë” Robert Morkot

“Sethy I – King of Egypt” Aidan Dodson

During this time of COVID-19 in person meetings of the Essex Egyptology Group are, of course, impossible. A couple of meetings were cancelled outright, but technology has come to the rescue and Aidan Dodson was able to give us the talk we had scheduled for June 2020 via Zoom. The subject of his talk was the Pharaoh Sethy I* (who was also the subject of a book Dodson published in 2019, this is in effect the talk of the book), one of Egypt’s more important kings but one who is often overshadowed by his son Rameses II. *I intend to use Dodson’s preferred spellings throughout this article, some of which are not quite the same as you might be used to seeing – like Sethy instead of Seti. Dodson began by giving us some context for the reign of Sethy I, starting with where he fits into the history of… Read More »“Sethy I – King of Egypt” Aidan Dodson

“Bringing the Past to Life: Photographing the Tombs of Ancient Egypt” Paolo Scremin

At the beginning of March Paolo Scremin came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about his work photographing the Old Kingdom nobles tombs at Saqqara, with the Oxford Expedition to Egypt (OEE). He began by telling us a bit about the OEE – the founding members of the expedition are himself and Yvonne Harpur. They are supported academically (although not financially) by Linacre College, Oxford where they have both been given academic posts, this support helps them to get access to the tombs to photograph as it puts the weight of an academic institution behind them rather than merely being two independent researchers. Although the two of them are the core of the project they do employ other staff to help them when needed in the field. There are obviously a lot of research teams and expeditions to Saqqara, each of which has a specific focus (we… Read More »“Bringing the Past to Life: Photographing the Tombs of Ancient Egypt” Paolo Scremin

“Perceptions of Seth” Ian Taylor

Photo by John Patterson, of a (heavily restored) statue of Seth & Horus (not shown) crowning Ramesses III now in the Cairo Museum

At the beginning of December Ian Taylor, one of the members of the Essex Egyptology Group, talked to us about the subject of his PhD: Seth. He began by talking about the modern image of Seth*, before turning to the evidence for how the Ancient Egyptians thought about this god. The common modern perception of Seth is as the dangerous enfant terrible of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon who brought death to the gods by murdering Osiris & came into conflict with Horus by usurping the throne. This comes to us by way of Plutarch, whose “Isis and Osiris” was the only version of the myth known before the translation of hieroglyphs. *As an aside Taylor mentioned here that while the name of Seth is different in different places and at different times he was going to stick to using “Seth” throughout his presentation. In Plutarch’s text Seth along with his… Read More »“Perceptions of Seth” Ian Taylor

“Reconstructing the Mid-Second Millennium BCE Using Scarab Amulets” Stephanie Boonstra

At the beginning of November Stephanie Boonstra came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about her work on scarab amulets, which were the subject of both her MA and PhD research. She began by giving us an overview of the importance of these amulets, and the way that they were made. Scarab amulets were the most popular Egyptian amulet from 2000 BCE all the way through to 500 BCE, and they were made of a variety of materials. A typical scarab amulet is clearly modelled on the anatomy of the beetle, although there are also more schematic ones that are more basic. They have a variety of uses: as a seal for administrative purposes, as a funerary item or as an object to commemorate an occasion. An example of this last type are Amenhotep III’s lion hunt series of scarabs. The most obvious example of a funerary… Read More »“Reconstructing the Mid-Second Millennium BCE Using Scarab Amulets” Stephanie Boonstra

“Travellers and Pilgrims Under the Last Pharaohs: Recent Investigations by the Oxford Expedition to Elkab” Luigi Prada

Map of el Kab with sites labelled

At the beginning of October Luigi Prada visited us at the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the work he has been doing at the site of el Kab as part of the Oxford University Expedition there. Map of el Kab with sites labelled He began with an overview of the site, to give us context for his work. el Kab lies halfway between Luxor and Aswan, about 2 hours south of Luxor. It’s one of the oldest cities, and was continuously inhabited from the Paleolithic through to the Roman Period. The ancient Egyptians called the city Nekheb, and its patron deity was the vulture goddess Nekhbet (meaning “the one of Nekheb”) – she was also patron goddess of the whole of Upper Egypt. The Greeks called it Eleithyiopolis (which is what Google Maps labels the city, see above) and the Romans used the name Leucothae. There are… Read More »“Travellers and Pilgrims Under the Last Pharaohs: Recent Investigations by the Oxford Expedition to Elkab” Luigi Prada

“Pharaonic Purification Scenes in the Graeco-Roman Period” Konstantin Ivanov

At the beginning of September Konstantin Ivanov visited us at the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about scenes showing purification of the Pharaoh in Graeco-Roman period temples. He began by talking about why he was studying these scenes. Firstly because they are telling us something about an important part of Egyptian culture – purity was a requirement before someone could enter the temple, so the Pharaoh must also be purified when he comes to the temple. And secondly he thought this was a good area to investigate because not a lot of work has been done on these scenes. Gardiner published on the subject in 1950 and that’s still the most cited text. It’s even cited by people discussing Ptolemaic Period temples, despite Gardiner explicitly staying he’s not covering that period! As well as that gap there is also new evidence available, so Ivanov did a large scale… Read More »“Pharaonic Purification Scenes in the Graeco-Roman Period” Konstantin Ivanov

“Ancient Egyptian Thought in the Old Testament” Lorna Oakes (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of August Lorna Oakes came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the parallels between Ancient Egyptian literary sources and the Old Testament. In her lecture she covered several sorts of literature including myths, legends, hymns & prayers and prophecy. Oakes started with myths, and began at the beginning with creation stories. She pointed out that these aren’t “just stories”, for the Ancient Egyptians (and the writers of the Old Testament) these were serious reflections on their origins. The Egyptians had several creation stories – even as early as the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom there were at least two variants with the god Atum bringing the gods Shu & Tefnut into being by sneezing or by using his semen. The closest variant to the Old Testament creation story is called the Memphite Theology and the text is known from a large granite… Read More »“Ancient Egyptian Thought in the Old Testament” Lorna Oakes (EEG Meeting Talk)