archaeology

“Egyptologists’ Notebooks: How the Modern World Rediscovered Ancient Egypt (And Partly Lost It Again)” Dr Chris Naunton

  • by

At the beginning of September Chris Naunton gave a talk to the Essex Egyptology Group via Zoom about his new book “Egyptologist’s Notebooks” (which is coming out at the beginning of October). He described his talk as “not quite, but nearly, a shameless plug” for his book – what he wanted to do during the talk was tell us a little bit about some of the characters he explores in the book and the main themes he wanted to draw out. He said the idea for the book came from discussion a couple of years ago with Ben Hayes at Thames & Hudson publishers – they’d previously published a book called “Explorers’ Sketchbooks”, which published bits of said sketchbooks as part of compiling the history of explorers and exploration. And so Hayes wondered if something similar could be done for Egyptology, given the extensive archives that exist from several early… Read More »“Egyptologists’ Notebooks: How the Modern World Rediscovered Ancient Egypt (And Partly Lost It Again)” Dr Chris Naunton

“Pyramids and Elephants: the Kingdom of Meroë” Robert Morkot

At the beginning of July Robert Morkot gave a talk to the Essex Egyptology Group (and guests) via Zoom. He’d previously visited us to talk about the 25th Dynasty of Egypt who were from Kush, and this talk followed on from that to tell us about the culture in what is now Sudan after the 25th Dynasty were forced from Egypt in the mid-1st Millennium BCE. Morkot explained that he wanted to give us an overview of a huge span of time (from 700 BCE to 350 CE), and show us lots of photos of Meroitic artifacts. Not much modern work is being done on the culture of Meroë compared to Egypt – many of the people who work on the region come from Egyptology and tend to work on New Kingdom sites in North Sudan. He began by giving us the geographical context of Kush and Meroë, and talked… Read More »“Pyramids and Elephants: the Kingdom of Meroë” Robert Morkot

“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

“Shalfak: A Middle Kingdom Fortress in Lake Nubia” Claudia Näser (EEG Meeting Talk)

A photo of a tomb model of a granary from the Middle Kingdom tomb of Meketre in the Met Museum

At our May meeting Claudia Näser came to talk to the Essex Egyptology Group about her work excavating at the fortress Shalfak in Lake Nubia. Shalfak is an ancient Egyptian fortress, part of a chain built along the Nile during the Middle Kingdom in Nubia. These forts were once thought to have all been drowned in the lake that was formed when the High Dam was built in the 1960s. The name of this lake is Lake Nasser for the portion inside Egyptian borders, and Lake Nubia for the portion inside Sudanese borders – Shalfak is 50km south of the Egypt/Sudan border and thus is in Lake Nubia. In the early 21st Century Google maps images showed that two of the drowned forts were actually above the water level of the lake and projects were begun to re-excavate them with modern techniques. It did take a while to get everything… Read More »“Shalfak: A Middle Kingdom Fortress in Lake Nubia” Claudia Näser (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Tomb Security in Ancient Egypt from the Predynastic to the Pyramid Age” Reg Clark (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of April Reg Clark came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about his work on tomb security from Prehistoric to Early Dynastic Egypt. While are lots of lurid stories about tomb robbers (and Clark showed us some clips from films) these date to later in Egyptian history, and the measures taken to prevent robbery in earlier periods are not much studied in their own right. Clark began by talking about why tombs need to be protected. The first obvious answer is that the Egyptians were buried with grave goods, so an elite tomb had treasure in it and was worth breaking into. The second reason that they didn’t want this to happen is that the tomb and the body are necessary for a good afterlife. After death a person’s spirits/souls separate from their body, the ka will remain in the tomb and the ba… Read More »“Tomb Security in Ancient Egypt from the Predynastic to the Pyramid Age” Reg Clark (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

“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)