3rd Millennium BCE

“Delta Myths and Legends” Penny Wilson (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of November Penny Wilson visited the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about myths & legends of the Delta region of Egypt. Wilson is involved in archaeological work in the Delta, and is currently writing a book about the region as there isn’t one already. One of her areas of interest is whether there is a distinct Delta culture during the Ancient Egyptian period. She began her talk by giving us some geographical context for the region. The first & most obvious difference between the Delta and the Nile Valley is the scale – in most of Egypt there’s only a narrow strip of land that it’s possible to live on, but the Delta is very broad. There is also more variety of environments in the Delta – the marshy interior is different to the desert edges & both are different to the Mediterranean coastline. The… Read More »“Delta Myths and Legends” Penny Wilson (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Ancient Craft – Modern Science and The Evolution of Mummification” Robert D. Loynes (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the May meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group Robert Loynes talked to us about his work on Ancient Egyptian mummies. He’s a retired orthopaedic surgeon who has subsequently achieved a PhD in Egyptology (from Manchester) using modern medical technology to investigate ancient mummies. Loynes began by telling us about what is known about Ancient Egyptian mummification techniques. Despite the Egyptians love of writing things down the contemporary sources actually don’t tell us anything – what we know is pieced together from later writings and examination of the actual mummies. The first mention of mummification techniques comes from Herodotus around 450 BCE, and it is next discussed by Diodorus Siculus in the 1st Century BCE. The Egyptians believed that for eternal life one needed the following: one’s whole body, one’s name, one’s Ka and one’s Ba. But the reality is that bodies decay and fall apart, so some sort of… Read More »“Ancient Craft – Modern Science and The Evolution of Mummification” Robert D. Loynes (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Mighty in Waking and Great in Sleeping: the History of Beds in Ancient Egypt” Manon Y. Schutz

At the beginning of April Manon Y. Schutz came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about beds in Ancient Egypt. She’s a D.Phil student at Oxford University, and beds in an Ancient Egyptian funerary context are the subject of her thesis. She has chosen to look at the funerary context because most of the evidence of beds that survives is from tombs. Her talk was divided into two parts – first an introduction to the topic of beds in Ancient Egypt, and then an overview of beds throughout Ancient Egyptian history. Schutz started by talking about the basics of the subject – what is a bed? It’s important to start by thinking about our modern preconceptions of the subject so that one can hopefully avoid jumping to unwarranted conclusions when thinking about Ancient Egyptian beds. She gave a detailed modern definition of a bed, and then looked… Read More »“Mighty in Waking and Great in Sleeping: the History of Beds in Ancient Egypt” Manon Y. Schutz

“New Texts from Ancient Egypt: Revisiting the Egyptian Alabaster Quarries at Hatnub” Roland Enmarch (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of March Roland Enmarch came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the ancient texts left on the walls of an Egyptian alabaster quarry in Middle Egypt. He started his talk by giving us the geographical and geological context for the quarry. Hatnub is in the Eastern desert fairly close to Amarna. The name “Hatnub” (hat-noob) is how the original excavators of the site in the 1890s pronounced the ancient name that they read on the walls (which is transliterated ḥwt-nbw). Modern Egyptologists would pronounce it more like “Hut nebu” (hoot neb-oo) because the assumptions made about how the vowels sound have changed, but the name has stuck with the original pronunciation. It’s quite likely that neither pronunciation bears much resemblance to what an actual Ancient Egyptian would’ve said. The name means “Mansion of Gold” which is reminiscent of the names of areas in… Read More »“New Texts from Ancient Egypt: Revisiting the Egyptian Alabaster Quarries at Hatnub” Roland Enmarch (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Ancient Egyptian Jewellery” Carol Andrews (EEG Meeting Talk)

In February Carol Andrews came to talk to the Essex Egyptology Group about Ancient Egyptian jewellery – in particular that worn by women. She structured her talk as an overview of the various types of jewellery and for each type she looked at both the archaeological evidence and at the artistic representations of the jewellery. Men wore as much jewellery as women, and in fact there are very few if any forms that were specific to women. One of the common forms of jewellery worn by both sexes is the broad collar, constructed of several concentric strings of beads with pendants on the outermost string. At the ends of the strings there may be large ornate terminals, and the heavier collars needed a counterpoise at the back to keep it attractively balanced around the neck. The first surviving example dates to the Middle Kingdom, but they are depicted on statues… Read More »“Ancient Egyptian Jewellery” Carol Andrews (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Inside the Step Pyramid” Vincent Oeters (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the November meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group Vincent Oeters talked to us about the Step Pyramid of Djoser – in particular the inside of it. He doesn’t himself work on the Step Pyramid, but while he was working (as an archaeologist) nearby he was able to go into it three times (with the permission of and accompanied by an Inspector from the Ministry of Antiquities, as it’s not generally open to tourists). And one of those times he was also allowed to take photos! And it was those photos that formed the core of his talk. He started his talk with a bit of geographical and historical scene setting. We don’t actually know all that much about Djoser – he reigned c.2640 BCE, and the names of his wife and daughter are known and that’s about it. There are two known statues of him – one is in… Read More »“Inside the Step Pyramid” Vincent Oeters (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Living in a Liminal Zone: The ‘Town’ of Queen Khentkawes at Giza” Ana Tavares (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Ana Tavares co-Field Director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about her work on two 4th Dynasty towns on the Giza Plateau near the Pyramids which she’s currently writing up as her PhD thesis. Her talk focussed on the town near Queen Khentkawes’s monument, with some comparisons to the other town at Heit el Ghurab (also called the Lost City of the Pyramids, which is where the builders of the Pyramids lived). Below you can see a plan of the Giza Plateau (that I found on wikipedia last year when I was writing about my visit there in November 2014). Heit el Ghurab isn’t marked – but it lies southeast of Khafre & Menkaure’s pyramid complexes (so the bottom right hand corner). The tomb of Queen Khentkawes is labelled towards the bottom right, and the pink L shape… Read More »“Living in a Liminal Zone: The ‘Town’ of Queen Khentkawes at Giza” Ana Tavares (EEG Meeting Talk)