2nd Millennium BCE

“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

“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

“The Cemeteries of Deir el-Bahri and Asasif in the Early Middle Kingdom: Recent Work by the University of Alacá Expedition to Thebes” Antonio J. Morales

Deir el-Bahri

At the beginning of July Antonio J. Morales visited the Essex Egyptology Group to tell us about the work of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project which he is the leader of. The project began in 2014 when he was working for Freie University in Berlin, and when he moved to the University of Alacá (outside Madrid) in 2017 the project continued under their sponsorship. Three-fifths of the €50,000/year needed to fund the project comes from the Spanish government, and the project must fundraise for the rest of it. To help with fundraising the project has several social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) to keep the project visible. Morales told us that he began with this information because he believes it important to be transparent about how the project is funded. He also believes it is important to publish their discoveries as soon as possible. As a result they… Read More »“The Cemeteries of Deir el-Bahri and Asasif in the Early Middle Kingdom: Recent Work by the University of Alacá Expedition to Thebes” Antonio J. Morales

“Missed and Underrated Criteria for Authenticating Egyptian Artifacts” Marcel Marée

At the beginning of June Marcel Marée came to talk to the Essex Egyptology Group about the criteria he uses to authenticate Ancient Egyptian artifacts and detect modern forgeries. A lot of people bring artifacts to the British Museum to be authenticated, including art dealers, and so he’s interested in improving and systematising the authentication process. Often experts rely on intuition, but that relies on such a breadth of knowledge that not many people can be sure they are right. Artistic merit is also often used as an indicator of authenticity, but that’s a dangerous criterion to rely on as pieces that look like they are good quality are not necessarily old (nor vice versa). In this talk he laid out the criteria he looks at when he’s examining an artifact – he said that he looks at several criteria because one is rarely sufficient to determine whether or not… Read More »“Missed and Underrated Criteria for Authenticating Egyptian Artifacts” Marcel Marée

“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 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)

“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)

“Of Mummies and Men: The Discovery of a Female Tattooed Mummy” Cédric Gobeil (EEG Study Day, April 2018)

In the last talk of the Essex Egyptology Group study day Cédric Gobeil told us about an exciting discovery in the 2014/15 season of a female mummy with several tattoos. He began by giving us some context for the discovery, and showed us some photos of Bernard Bruyère’s excavations of the eastern & western necropolises. Bruyère wasn’t interested in the human remains, he was only interested in the amulets etc that he could find on these mummies. So he unwrapped all the mummies that he found, which sadly has the knock on effect of damaging the mummy. The remnants were put back into some of the tombs and just left there. The female tattooed mummy was found in TT291 in the western necropolis, which wasn’t the tomb where it was initially buried. Nobody knew there was anything in TT291 so when Gobeil first entered the tomb and discovered it was… Read More »“Of Mummies and Men: The Discovery of a Female Tattooed Mummy” Cédric Gobeil (EEG Study Day, April 2018)

“‘Wonderful Things’: Highlights from the Past Seasons” Cédric Gobeil (EEG Study Day, April 2018)

In the third talk at the Essex Egyptology Group study day Cédric Gobeil broadened his focus to tell us about the work carried out by the whole team over the last 7 years – his time as director. His aims when he took on the job were threefold: to restore & preserve the archaeological structures, to enhance the site with the development of a site management programme and to continue the study of the monuments & objects (both in situ and in the storerooms). The talk covered each of the areas of the site in turn, giving an idea of the sort of things that were done in each place and some of the more interesting discoveries. In the settlement area he started his term by seeing what repairs were needed, and it turned out that about 15% of the site needed emergency repair which took 2 years to accomplish.… Read More »“‘Wonderful Things’: Highlights from the Past Seasons” Cédric Gobeil (EEG Study Day, April 2018)