Skip to content

“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

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

There’s a new two-part documentary on Ancient Egypt showing on BBC2 at the moment, and despite recording it J decided to watch it as it aired on Friday & I joined him in this (I’d actually planned to watch the second half of the footy after dinner, but the ITV stream on their webpage was so lousy (constantly re-buffering & dropping out) during the half-time chat that I gave up on that idea). In this series Joann Fletcher is telling us about the more ordinary inhabitants of Ancient Egypt – not the Pharaohs & the aristocracy but the more middle class inhabitants of the village of craftspeople that’s been excavated in Deir el-Medina. 3500 years ago this village (just called the village in Egyptian times) housed the people who worked on the tombs of the Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, and it’s situated just over the other side… Read More »Ancient Egypt – Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings

“Egypt’s So-Called First Intermediate Period and the Tomb of Ankhtifi” Glenn Godenho (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday’s meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group we had a talk from Glenn Godenho about an egyptian tomb that he is involved in excavating & the things it can tell us about the First Intermediate Period in Ancient Egyptian history. He started off by setting the First Intermediate Period in context – this is a stretch of time between the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom (around 2000BC). He sketched out the end of the Old Kingdom for us, starting from a high point (the time of the Giza pyramids in the 4th Dynasty) through to the 6th & 7th Dynasties. At the end of this time the power of the Pharaoh and the central government was in decline, and the power of regional governors was rising. Then there’s a 100 year period where there doesn’t seem to’ve been any effective central government at all – Egypt wasn’t a… Read More »“Egypt’s So-Called First Intermediate Period and the Tomb of Ankhtifi” Glenn Godenho (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Man in a Cretan Cloak: JDS Pendlebury at Amarna” Rosalind Janssen (EEG Meeting Talk)

Sunday’s talk at the Essex Egyptology Group meeting was given by Rosalind Janssen and she told us about the life and death of John Devitt Stringfellow Pendlebury. He was an archaeologist in the 1930s who worked in Crete and in Egypt (at Amarna, the site of Akhenaten’s new city). When WWII broke out he joined the British Intelligence Service, and was killed in Crete during the war at the age of 36. There wasn’t much egyptology in this talk, it was all about Pendlebury the person and the legend. He was a larger than life character whose heroic death during the war added extra glamour to his persona. And you could say he’s the Marmite of egyptological personalities – Janssen mentioned a few times that he’s a hero of hers, but also pointed out that there are other people who regard him as overly flamboyant and romantic in his approach… Read More »“Man in a Cretan Cloak: JDS Pendlebury at Amarna” Rosalind Janssen (EEG Meeting Talk)

Photos from the Louvre

Back in September 2011 J & I spent a few days in Paris, primarily to go and look at the Egyptian collections in the Louvre. I’ve been very slack about sorting my photos out, but have finally put up the set from the second day we spent in the Louvre – they are all here and I’ve pulled out a few highlights for this post. We started off that day by looking at the Mona Lisa and some of the other Renaissance paintings, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. After that we headed back to the second floor of the Egyptian galleries. This suite of rooms is laid out chronologically from the Pre-Dynastic period through to the Roman period. Each room had some key pieces laid out with lots of space round them and then a couple of cases tucked away at the side crammed with objects (like a selection… Read More »Photos from the Louvre

The Death of Ramesses III and Revisiting Tutankhamun’s Family

  • by

A couple of days ago BMJ published a paper about the death of Ramesses III (Revisiting the harem conspiracy and death of Ramesses III: anthropological, forensic, radiological, and genetic study. Zahi Hawass, Somaia Ismail, Ashraf Selim, Sahar N Saleem, Dina Fathalla, Sally Wasef, Ahmed Z Gad, Rama Saad, Suzan Fares, Hany Amer, Paul Gostner, Yehia Z Gad, Carsten M Pusch, Albert R Zink. BMJ 2012;345:e8268). This uses techniques similar to the 2010 paper which gave details about the health at death and the familial relationships between several of the late 18th Dynasty Pharaohs (Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun’s Family. Zahi Hawass, Yehia Z. Gad, Somaia Ismail, Rabab Khairat, Dina Fathalla, Naglaa Hasan, Amal Ahmed, Hisham Elleithy, Markus Ball, Fawzi Gaballah, Sally Wasef, Mohamed Fateen, Hany Amer, Paul Gostner, Ashraf Selim, Albert Zink, Carsten M. Pusch. JAMA. 10;303(7):638-647). In this case they concentrated primarily on one mummy, that of Ramesses… Read More »The Death of Ramesses III and Revisiting Tutankhamun’s Family

“Digging in the Delta” Rebecca Bradshaw (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Rebecca Bradshaw came to the Essex Egyptology Group to give a talk on the archaeology she did in the Delta area of Egypt earlier this year. She’s currently a PhD student at the University of London, and she had asked the EEG (and other Egyptology societies) for help with funding her trip to the Delta to get archaeological experience between her MPhil & her PhD (the trip was originally planned for spring 2011, but had to be postponed because of the unrest in Egypt). The group had given her a donation towards her expenses, with the request that she come & talk to us about the work when she was back – and this was that talk. The work she was doing is part of the Western Delta Survey, a long term project that is currently run by Penelope Wilson (Durham University), and was split into two parts… Read More »“Digging in the Delta” Rebecca Bradshaw (EEG Meeting Talk)

EES Trip to Oxford

On November 10 the Egypt Exploration Society (of which J is a member) organised a guided tour round 3 Egyptian collections in Oxford. The first of these was the archives in the Griffith Institute (no photography permitted in this one) – they have a large collection of the notes, photographs, drawings etc of several important Egyptologists, including all of Howard Carter’s documents. As this is not normally open to the public it was particularly exciting to be shown some of the collection. Two of the staff, Elizabeth Fleming and Catherine Warsi, gave us an hour’s talk. First they gave an overview of some of the prominent Egyptologists associated with the Institute and then moved on to a biography of Howard Carter concentrating on his work in Egypt and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in particular. They showed us several of the watercolours and line drawings he did in his initial… Read More »EES Trip to Oxford

“Felines – fact and fiction in Ancient Egypt” Joyce Filer (EEG meeting talk)

Sunday was the October meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group and our speaker this month was Joyce Filer. She used to be the Curator of Human and Animal Remains at the British Museum, and for one of her masters degrees her dissertation subject was cats in Egypt which is what she was talking to us about. Her talk covered quite a lot of ground during the hour & a half she was speaking. Part of it was about the more modern representations of Egyptian cats – quite a few 19th Century oil paintings scattered through her slides, all with black cats in and the occasional tiger skin. One of her main themes was how this was actually a completely unrealistic depiction of what ancient Egyptian cats would have been like. She showed us pictures of a few species of wild cats that are prevalent in the area, most of them… Read More »“Felines – fact and fiction in Ancient Egypt” Joyce Filer (EEG meeting talk)