“Decrees, Papyri and Biographies in the Age of the Pyramids” Nigel Strudwick (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of March Nigel Strudwick returned to the Essex Egyptology Group to tell us about his work on Old Kingdom texts. He did his PhD on administration in the Old Kingdom, so he told us that he has read every Old Kingdom text that has been discovered. Since his PhD he has spent a lot of time researching the New Kingdom in Luxor, and tomb robbery in New Kingdom Thebes was the subject of the talk he gave to the group in 2016. But more recently he has returned to the Old Kingdom texts with the desire to pass on his knowledge of them to a wider audience. The standard compendium of texts was compiled by the German Egyptologist Kurt Sethe and published in the 1930s. It gives no indication of how the original text was written – it re-writes the hieroglyphs running in a left to right… Read More »“Decrees, Papyri and Biographies in the Age of the Pyramids” Nigel Strudwick (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Ancient Egyptian and Nubian Leather Technology” Lucy Skinner (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of February Lucy Skinner came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about her work on leather technology in Ancient Egypt and Nubia. She’s been a conservator working on leather for years, and is now doing her PhD at the University of Northampton and the British Museum. Earlier in her career she worked conserving leather items from Europe as well as from Egypt & Nubia. The European leather is generally waterlogged, so the dessicated leather from the Nile Valley is very different to work with as a conservator. There are other differences too, and she became interested in why it’s so different and how it was made. Skinner told us that the main questions that her PhD research is focused on are: what animals were used to make Ancient Egyptian and Nubian leather? what processing techniques did they use? is Ancient Egyptian leather different from… Read More »“Ancient Egyptian and Nubian Leather Technology” Lucy Skinner (EEG Meeting Talk)

“The Coffins of Nespawershefyt and Pakepu at the Fitzwilliam Museum” Helen Strudwick (EEG Meeting Talk)

Inner Coffin of Nespawershefyt

At the beginning of December Helen Strudwick came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about two sets of coffins that are part of the collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where she is curator. She chose these coffins as the subject of her talk because she has recently been working on them a lot and they make for an interestingly contrasting pair. During her talk she showed us many pictures of the coffins she was discussing and pointed out interesting features of the decoration. The first set of coffins she talked about belonged to a man called Nespawershefyt, who lived during the 21st Dynasty (c. 1000 BCE). The coffins are of a type called “yellow coffins” because they are predominantly yellow in colour. The set consists of five pieces: an outer box with a lid, an inner box with a lid and a mummy board. The… Read More »“The Coffins of Nespawershefyt and Pakepu at the Fitzwilliam Museum” Helen Strudwick (EEG Meeting Talk)

EEG Trip to the Ashmolean Museum

In November a small group of us from the Essex Egyptology Group visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to be given a tour of the Early Egypt Gallery focusing on the Hierakonpolis Ivories by the curator Liam McNamara. When we got there we were a bit disconcerted to see that that gallery was actually closed for essential maintenance! The Ashmolean is installing a temporary entrance into the gallery so that the revolving door at the main entrance to the museum can be replaced. This actually worked out pretty well for us, as we had that gallery all to ourselves for our tour apart from a few workmen. A small gallery of my photos from our tour is on flickr, click here to see them. McNamara began by introducing the Main Deposit at Hierakonpolis. This was discovered in the late 19th Century by the archaeologists James Quibell and Frederick Green at… Read More »EEG Trip to the Ashmolean Museum

“Papyrology and the EES: Riches from Rubbish Tips” Margaret Mountford (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of November Margaret Mountford came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) (of which she is Chair of the Board of Trustees) and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (on which she did her PhD). She began by talking about the history of the EES, which she framed as a very early exercise in crowd-funding! In 1873 Amelia Edwards visited Egypt for a cruise down the Nile, and when she came back wrote a best selling book about her trip. She was appalled at the state of the Egyptian antiquities at the time, and at how they were deteriorating rapidly due to both neglect and vandalism. Mountford told us that Amelia Edwards was one of those rather formidable Victorian spinsters who when they saw something that needed done went out and did it. And so rather than just write letters about how… Read More »“Papyrology and the EES: Riches from Rubbish Tips” Margaret Mountford (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Egypt’s Origins: The View from Mesopotamia and Iran” Paul Collins (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of September Paul Collins came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the influences that Uruk culture (in Mesopotamia) and Proto-Elamite culture (in Iran) had on Predynastic & Early Dynastic Egypt. He’s not an egyptologist – his research interests include the material culture of ancient Iraq & Iran in the late 4th Millennium BCE, and the transmission of artistic forms across the Near East and Egypt. He began with a discussion of historical explanations and ideas about these influences. It begins, as so much of Egyptology does, with Petrie whose work on pottery from Naqada is still the foundation of our understanding of the chronology of Predynastic Egypt today. Petrie also worked at Koptos and Abydos – the royal tombs at Abydos date to the Early Dynastic period. They are an expression of the great power of the Egyptian state at this time and… Read More »“Egypt’s Origins: The View from Mesopotamia and Iran” Paul Collins (EEG Meeting Talk)

“The Tomb of Tatia at Saqqara” Vincent Oeters (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of June Vincent Oeters returned to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about some of his own work at Saqqara on a Ramesside era tomb chapel. This work is part of a long term on-going project which has been excavating south of the Causeway of Unas since 1975. Initially the project was a collaboration between the Museum at Leiden and the Egypt Exploration Society, then after 1998 the EES were no longer involved and the University of Leiden replaced them. Since 2015 the Turin Museum have also been part of the project. Before telling us about the tomb chapel of Tatia, Oeters told us about the overall project. The genesis of the project was in the 1950s when the Museum began to investigate three statues which had been in the collection since 1828. They arrived without provenance, but were believed to be from Saqqara. The… Read More »“The Tomb of Tatia at Saqqara” Vincent Oeters (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Flies, Lions and Oyster Shells: Military Awards or Tea for Two” Taneash Sidpura (EEG Meeting Talk)

String of 7 fly amulets

In August Taneash Sidpura came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the topic of his PhD research – golden flies, golden lions & oyster shells. These pendants are often stated to be military awards handed out by Pharaoh to people who distinguished themselves in battle, but having researched these items Sidpura disagrees with that assessment. He began his talk by giving us some background to the items & their assumed meaning. It’s typical of nobles to record self praise on stelae & in their tomb inscriptions. Generally this is related to the king, and how wonderfully the noble did the things the king wanted him to do. Sidpura showed us some examples of these sorts of texts including the 12th Dynasty stela of Sobek-khu. These texts also record the gifts and rewards that the king has given them for doing these things. Lots of these gifts… Read More »“Flies, Lions and Oyster Shells: Military Awards or Tea for Two” Taneash Sidpura (EEG Meeting Talk)

“A Middle Kingdom Mortuary Ritual Reflected in Writing: A Case Study from Asyut” Ilona Regulski (EEG Meeting Talk)

In July Ilona Regulski visited us at the Essex Egyptology Group to talk about her work on some Middle Kingdom texts written on papyrus fragments from Asyut. She is now working at the British Museum as a curator, but this talk was about the work she did before starting that job so the papyrii in question are not at the British Museum but instead are in the collection at the Neues Museum in Berlin. Their accession numbers are P10480-10482, and she used those as names for the pieces when talking about them. Regulski began her talk by giving us context for the papyrii. They were acquired by Ludwig Borchardt (who also acquired the Nefertiti bust for the Neues Museum), who bought them in Luxor. The seller said they’d been found in Asyut and this provenance is confirmed by textual details which she explained later in the talk. Asyut is the… Read More »“A Middle Kingdom Mortuary Ritual Reflected in Writing: A Case Study from Asyut” Ilona Regulski (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Tending to the Dead: Rites, Texts and an Embalming Workshop at Saqqara (Part 2)” Ramadan Hussein (EEG Meeting Talk)

This is the second half of Ramadan Hussein’s talk that he gave to us at the Essex Egyptology Group in February – the first part is here. During this part of the talk Hussein told us about the exciting new discoveries that he & his team have made at Saqqara which have now been announced by the Ministry of Antiquities (see also the Tübingen University announcement). Ramadan Hussein on site at Saqqara in October 2016 Hussein said that they have continued to excavate the area to the south of the three tombs he discussed in the first half of his talk. As a reminder, on top of the main shaft they discovered the remnants of a basic superstructure and then to the south of this was a chapel for offerings. The initial discovery for this further excavation was a small shaft the size of the side shafts of the tombs… Read More »“Tending to the Dead: Rites, Texts and an Embalming Workshop at Saqqara (Part 2)” Ramadan Hussein (EEG Meeting Talk)