history

“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

“The God’s Wife of Amun (Dynasty 23-26): Rise to Power & Assumption of the Priesthood.” Dr Mariam Ayad

For the May 2021 meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group Dr Mariam Ayad talked to us on Zoom about the God’s Wives of Amun, which she has published a book on: God’s Wife, God’s Servant. The focus of her talk was to be the God’s Wives who held the office during the Third Intermediate Period and into the Late Period, but she began by tracing the history of the title before that. The earliest evidence for the titles is in connection with Ahmose-Nefertari at the very beginning of the 18th Dynasty, on a donation stela at Karnak. She’s shown wearing the crown which is later associated with the God’s Wife of Amun and the text gives her a series of titles including that of God’s Wife of Amun, alongside Chief Royal Wife. The text discusses her husband Ahmose purchasing the title of Second Priest of Amun for her, and she… Read More »“The God’s Wife of Amun (Dynasty 23-26): Rise to Power & Assumption of the Priesthood.” Dr Mariam Ayad

“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

“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

“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)

“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)

“Tending to the Dead: Rites, Texts and an Embalming Workshop at Saqqara (Part 2)” Ramadan Hussein (EEG Meeting Talk)

This is the second half of Ramadan Hussein’s talk that he gave to us at the Essex Egyptology Group in February – the first part is here. During this part of the talk Hussein told us about the exciting new discoveries that he & his team have made at Saqqara which have now been announced by the Ministry of Antiquities (see also the Tübingen University announcement). Ramadan Hussein on site at Saqqara in October 2016 Hussein said that they have continued to excavate the area to the south of the three tombs he discussed in the first half of his talk. As a reminder, on top of the main shaft they discovered the remnants of a basic superstructure and then to the south of this was a chapel for offerings. The initial discovery for this further excavation was a small shaft the size of the side shafts of the tombs… Read More »“Tending to the Dead: Rites, Texts and an Embalming Workshop at Saqqara (Part 2)” Ramadan Hussein (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Kings from Kush: Egypt’s 25th Dynasty” Robert Morkot (EEG Meeting Talk)

In May Robert Morkot came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the 25th Dynasty – kings from Kush. Chronologically the 25th Dynasty is in the Late Period at the end of the Third Intermediate Period. Kush is also referred to as Nubia, and is in the north of modern day Sudan stretching from Aswan to Khartoum. Nowadays this area is mostly desert but the rain line has changed and it was a much more fertile region during the time of Kush. Morkot prefers to use the term Kush instead of Nubia because it has fewer connotations. There are modern Nubians and it’s not clear whether or not they have continuity with the 25th Dynasty era people. (Although old habits clearly die hard as he used Nubia & Kush pretty much interchangeably through the talk.) Morkot told us his interest in the region & period started when… Read More »“Kings from Kush: Egypt’s 25th Dynasty” Robert Morkot (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)