egypt

“Life on The Edge: Updates from Hierakonpolis’ Elite Cemetery” Renée Friedman

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The talk at the September 2021 meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group was given by Renée Friedman about the latest work at Hierakonpolis. Of course as with everything else in life their work at the site has been disrupted by the pandemic, but they got a full season in early 2020 before the disruption began and hope to get back in November of this year for another season. And she said that the time during lockdown when they weren’t generating new finds gave them a chance both to re-examine some of their older finds and to think about what unprovenanced material in museums might have originally come from the site. Friedman began by noting that she was going to assume that we were familiar with the site itself and with previous excavations that have taken place. I think in general we all were, but if you need a bit more… Read More »“Life on The Edge: Updates from Hierakonpolis’ Elite Cemetery” Renée Friedman

“The Ancient Egyptian Harem: Drudgery or Debauchery?” Dylan Bickerstaffe

Our July 2021 talk at the Essex Egyptology Group was given by Dylan Bickerstaffe – postponed from April 2020 due to the pandemic. This talk complements the “Royal Ladies of the New Kingdom” study day that he presented for us back in April 2019, providing an extra lecture which there wasn’t time to fit in on that day, but also standing alone as its own subject. Bickerstaffe began by talking a bit about the site of Gurob – this is the type site for harems, the one that Egyptologists use to determine what they think is “usual” for an Ancient Egyptian harem. The name of the harem at Gurob is Per-Khener n Mi-Wer in Ancient Egyptian. Per-Khener is the word that we’re translating as harem, and Mi-Wer is the name of the place. The site is now underneath lots of Egyptian army structures that they use for conducting exercises, but… Read More »“The Ancient Egyptian Harem: Drudgery or Debauchery?” Dylan Bickerstaffe

“Walking in Ancient Footsteps: The High Priest of Osiris Wenennefer and Ancient Abydos.” Dr Stephen Harvey

At the beginning of June Dr Stephen Harvey talked to the Essex Egyptology Group via Zoom about his work at Abydos. He’s been working there since the late 1980s, and this talk covered aspects of his research since 1993 in particular. Abydos is best known as the cult centre for the god Osiris and Harvey told us that today he was going to focus on a High Priest of Osiris called Wenennefer. He explained that this individual provides us with a chance to walk in ancient footsteps and explore the site as it was in the late reign of Ramesses II, c. 1225 BCE. It will also cast some light on over 300 years of the cultic activity at this site. There is a lot of statuary and other monuments associated with Wennenefer, and Harvey sees him as a kind of visionary who shaped what we can see at Abydos at… Read More »“Walking in Ancient Footsteps: The High Priest of Osiris Wenennefer and Ancient Abydos.” Dr Stephen Harvey

“Wadi el Jarf: The Harbour of King Khufu on the Red Sea Shore and its Papyrological Archive” Professor Pierre Tallet

At the beginning of April Pierre Tallet talked to the Essex Egyptology Group via Zoom about his team’s work at the harbour of Wadi el Jarf including the papyrus archive that they have found at the site. He talked to us live from Cairo – the team are currently on site at Wadi el Jarf in their 11th season of excavations, but he had returned from Cairo for the day to make sure he had a stable enough internet connection for the talk. He began by setting the scene – there are three Ancient Egyptian harbours known on the Red Sea coast of Egypt. As well as Wadi el Jarf there is another harbour to the north at Ayn Soukhna (where he has also excavated), and one to the south called Mersa Gawasis which has been known since 1976. These harbours let us know how the Egyptians got to the… Read More »“Wadi el Jarf: The Harbour of King Khufu on the Red Sea Shore and its Papyrological Archive” Professor Pierre Tallet

“The Lighter Side of Egypt with the Art of Lance Thackeray” Lee Young

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At the beginning of August Lee Young gave a talk via Zoom to the Essex Egyptology Group about the artist Lance Thackeray. Young is an independent researcher whose interests are primarily in the archaeological artists in Egypt, particularly the women. She said that most of the time she gives talks about people who have had a major contribution to Egyptology – this is debatable in the case of Lance Thackeray but he certainly made people laugh and be interested in Egypt! In this talk Young was covering three different aspects of her subject – Lance Thackeray the man, Lance Thackeray’s art (in particular from his book “The Light Side of Egypt”) and early tourism in Egypt which was the subject of Thackeray’s art. She began by sketching out the early life of Thackeray before moving on to include the other two subjects. Lance Thackeray would need no introduction to postcard… Read More »“The Lighter Side of Egypt with the Art of Lance Thackeray” Lee Young

“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

“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

“Bringing the Past to Life: Photographing the Tombs of Ancient Egypt” Paolo Scremin

At the beginning of March Paolo Scremin came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about his work photographing the Old Kingdom nobles tombs at Saqqara, with the Oxford Expedition to Egypt (OEE). He began by telling us a bit about the OEE – the founding members of the expedition are himself and Yvonne Harpur. They are supported academically (although not financially) by Linacre College, Oxford where they have both been given academic posts, this support helps them to get access to the tombs to photograph as it puts the weight of an academic institution behind them rather than merely being two independent researchers. Although the two of them are the core of the project they do employ other staff to help them when needed in the field. There are obviously a lot of research teams and expeditions to Saqqara, each of which has a specific focus (we… Read More »“Bringing the Past to Life: Photographing the Tombs of Ancient Egypt” Paolo Scremin

“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