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“Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt” Frances Boardman

This Sunday’s talk at the Essex Egyptology Group meeting was given by Frances Boardman. The title of her talk was “Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt”, and she gave us a broad overview of various aspects of Egyptian daily life. The style of her talk was very stream of conciousness (in a good way) so it’s hard to summarise – one subject would lead into another organically and you’d suddenly realise that where you had just been being told about education now you were thinking about hair conditioner recipes. The emphasis was on positive and entertaining subjects, an antidote to how we can often get bogged down in the details of how nasty, brutish and short life must’ve been. A lot of the information about Egyptians’ lives comes from funerary contexts or bureaucratic documents, but Boardman managed to draw out of this sort of data anecdotes and asides which brought to… Read More »“Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt” Frances Boardman

“The Lion in Ancient Egypt: An Elite Phenomenon?” Lyn Stagg (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Lyn Stagg came to talk to the Essex Egyptology Group about her research into the iconography & symbolism of lions in early Egypt. The era she is interested in is pre-Old Kingdom Egypt – including the pre-dynastic eras and the early dynastic (Dynasties 0-2). The generally repeated “explanation” of lion symbolism during that era is that the lion represented the King, based on the ideas of archaeologists in the 19th Century. Stagg felt that it was worth revisiting the lion artifacts that we have from this period of Egyptian history and seeing what conclusions can be drawn from a more modern assessment of them. She started by giving us some context for early Egypt, and for the provenance & original excavation of the objects she’s been re-examining. Generally the Egyptian state is thought to’ve come into existence at the start of Dynasty I with Narmer, but Stagg believes… Read More »“The Lion in Ancient Egypt: An Elite Phenomenon?” Lyn Stagg (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Ritual and Religion in Egyptian Mines and Quarries” Hannah Pethen (EEG Meeting Talk)

This Sunday’s talk at the Essex Egyptology Group was given by Hannah Pethen, on the subject of the ritual activities that took place at Ancient Egyptian mines & quarries. She had narrowed her focus a bit from the title of the talk – she restricted herself to the pre-New Kingdom era, and concentrated primarily on what’s known of the Middle Kingdom rituals after some introductory words about Old Kingdom & First Intermediate period evidence. Old Kingdom mining expeditions generally left behind some text explaining that the Pharaoh had commanded this expedition to be undertaken – normally using the Horus name of the Pharaoh, and not the throne name (the latter is the form one sees in a cartouche). In the First Intermediate period the local rulers of an area start to send expeditions under their own authority, and so the Pharaoh isn’t mentioned at all. And during this period the… Read More »“Ritual and Religion in Egyptian Mines and Quarries” Hannah Pethen (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Freemasonry and Ancient Egypt” Cathie Bryan (EEG Talk)

On Sunday Cathie Bryan came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the influence that Ancient Egypt had on Freemasonry. She started by telling us a bit about Freemasonry & its origins. The modern Freemason movement starts around the early 18th Century & is derived in part from the groups or guilds of stonemasons that existed in the middle ages. Freemasonry uses the paraphernalia of the stonemasons trade (in particular the compass and square) in a symbolic fashion. Part of their mythos comes from a 14th Century document that sets out the history of masonry & the appropriate behaviour for masons, and this traces the history of masonry from Euclid via him “teaching the Egyptians how to be masons”. Obviously, as Bryan pointed out, this is now known to be more than a little impossible given Euclid lived a few millennia after the Egyptians built things like… Read More »“Freemasonry and Ancient Egypt” Cathie Bryan (EEG Talk)

EEG Trip to the EES

Last Wednesday a group of us from the Essex Egyptology Group went to visit the Egypt Exploration Society‘s offices in London. Once we’d all arrived Jo Kyffin started off with a half hour talk on the history of the Society & an overview of what they do nowadays. The Society started life as the brainchild of a formidable Victorian woman called Amelia Edwards. She was (among other things) a novelist & travel writer, and in the 1870s she visited Egypt in part for the warm weather and in part to write a book about travelling through the country. This book was called “A Thousand Miles Up The Nile” and was written in an enthusiastic (and very Victorian) style – Jo read us a couple of excerpts from it. Although Amelia Edwards never returned to Egypt she became very passionate about the country. While she was there she’d noted what poor… Read More »EEG Trip to the EES

“Metorites in Ancient Egypt” Diane Johnson (EEG Talk)

On Sunday Diane Johnson came to the Essex Egyptology Group meeting to talk to us about meteorites in Ancient Egypt. She’s a physicist who works at the Open University on meteorites, and is also interested in Ancient Egypt. She is combining the two by examining ancient iron objects from Egypt to see if they derive from meteorite iron & has recently published a paper about a bead found in a pre-historic tomb. Johnson opened her talk with a discussion of what meteorites are (in more detail than “rocks that fall from space”). There are three types – rocky, iron & rocky-iron. The iron ones are the ones with most relevance for the rest of the talk, and she briefly discussed their composition. Iron in meteorites is normally nickel rich, around 10%ish (I think she said) and the nickel rich vs. non-nickel rich patterning in the meteorite generally shows similar characteristics… Read More »“Metorites in Ancient Egypt” Diane Johnson (EEG Talk)

TV Watched While We Were Away (Almost All Egypt Related)

While we were visiting J’s parents we watched a few documentaries about ancient Egypt (or related subjects) that they’d recorded from TV channels we don’t have. A bit of a mixed bag – one of them I’d’ve switched off if it was just me (J wasn’t as annoyed by it), but the others were better. Ultimate Tut Ultimate Tut was a documentary about Tutankhamun, presented by Chris Naunton (who’s the Director of the EES), so J had heard of it and was looking forward to the chance to watch it. The focus was on how he died, and how come his burial was so small compared to other Pharaohs, although it also covered a lot of what’s known of the history of the period too. It presented a new theory for how Tutankhamun died – perhaps run down by a chariot on the battlefield. The evidence here comes from the… Read More »TV Watched While We Were Away (Almost All Egypt Related)

August’s EEG Meeting

The August meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group was a change from the usual format. Instead of a guest speaker we had four 10 minute talks from members of the group (there should’ve been 5 talks, but sadly one didn’t happen for technical reasons). Janet Brewer started us off & gave us a brief biography of François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette, who was an early Egyptologist. His reputation is of someone who worked too fast, on too much, with inadequate records – but Janet argued that he was no worse than his contemporaries, and may’ve been better than alternatives at the time. I was next – I talked about J & my visit to the Neues Museum (which I wrote about here). If you want to see the talk, J videoed it & it’s up online here. Tilly Burton told us about spinning and weaving. As with many things about the… Read More »August’s EEG Meeting

Neues Museum, Berlin

As well as the Amarna exhibition (post) J and I spent quite a lot more time in the rest of the Egyptian collections in the Neues Museum. Where we could take photos, and I did – you can find them on flickr and some highlights in this post. Floor 1 (Ground Floor) As you go into the museum the Egyptian collections start on the right hand side with a room they title “Prologue” that covers where they got their material – i.e. the German excavations in Egypt. I’m not, as it happens, particularly interested in 19th Century colonial behaviour by the European nations so I was more looking at the various objects in their own right. Notably this room had some of the original ceilings of the museum, which are painted blue with gold Egyptian style decoration. I particularly liked a pair of objects where they had the vase they… Read More »Neues Museum, Berlin

Im Licht von Amarna (Exhibition at the Neues Museum, Berlin)

Back in March J & I visited Berlin (post) and the main purpose of our visit was to go to the exhibition at the Neues Museum about Amarna – Im Licht von Amarna (In the Light of Amarna). We went in March because the exhibition was originally scheduled to end in mid-April, but I think it’s been extended till early August now. I’ve finally finished processing my photographs from the Neues Museum, originally I was going to post about both the exhibition & the rest of the museum in the same post. However it was turning into a bit of a monster post, so I’ve split it into two and in this post I’m going to talk about the Amarna exhibition (where photography wasn’t permitted). 100 Jahr Fund der Nofretete The premise for this exhibition is that it is 100 years since the famous bust of Nefertiti was found, and… Read More »Im Licht von Amarna (Exhibition at the Neues Museum, Berlin)