egyptology

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

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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

“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

“Travellers and Pilgrims Under the Last Pharaohs: Recent Investigations by the Oxford Expedition to Elkab” Luigi Prada

Map of el Kab with sites labelled

At the beginning of October Luigi Prada visited us at the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the work he has been doing at the site of el Kab as part of the Oxford University Expedition there. Map of el Kab with sites labelled He began with an overview of the site, to give us context for his work. el Kab lies halfway between Luxor and Aswan, about 2 hours south of Luxor. It’s one of the oldest cities, and was continuously inhabited from the Paleolithic through to the Roman Period. The ancient Egyptians called the city Nekheb, and its patron deity was the vulture goddess Nekhbet (meaning “the one of Nekheb”) – she was also patron goddess of the whole of Upper Egypt. The Greeks called it Eleithyiopolis (which is what Google Maps labels the city, see above) and the Romans used the name Leucothae. There are… Read More »“Travellers and Pilgrims Under the Last Pharaohs: Recent Investigations by the Oxford Expedition to Elkab” Luigi Prada

“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

“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)

“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)

“Asyut: Capital That Never Was” Jochem Kahl (Sackler Lecture 2017)

This year’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Egyptology was given by Jochem Kahl on the subject of the city of Asyut. He started by setting the scene with a thematically appropriate quote from Amelia Edwards, who visited the city in 1843. She described how as she approached it looked like a fairytale city on the Nile, but on arrival she was much less impressed with the prosaic reality of the modern city. Asyut was the capital of the 13th Nome in Pharaonic Egypt – it’s in the middle of the country, about 400km south of Cairo, 100km south of Amarna and 300km north of Luxor (these distances are all very approximate!). The modern city has around 400,000 inhabitants, and completely covers old Asyut. Due to the silt deposited by the Nile flooding the depth of any remains is significant – late antiquity is on the order of 5m… Read More »“Asyut: Capital That Never Was” Jochem Kahl (Sackler Lecture 2017)

“Howard Carter: An Alternative View of the Man Through His Art” Lee Young (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of this month Lee Young came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk about Howard Carter as an artist (rather than as an archaeologist). She is an independent researcher associated with the Griffith Institute in Oxford where the bulk of Carter’s notes and archives are kept. Although she was talking to us today about Carter she said that her real research interest is in the female artists whose works are represented in the Griffith Institute collections. She began by sketching us a quick verbal picture of Howard Carter’s character: he was contrary, stubborn, opinionated and sometimes rude. He was short-tempered and didn’t suffer fools gladly. He also had a chip on his shoulder about his humble origins – going so far in later years as to re-write his background into something that he felt was more “suitable”. But to offset this picture of a proud man Young… Read More »“Howard Carter: An Alternative View of the Man Through His Art” Lee Young (EEG Meeting Talk)