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Discovering Tutankhamun (Exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum)

In the middle of August we went to the Discovering Tutankhamun exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum. When we were there we met up with other people from the Essex Eygptology Group who’d come across for the day (we were staying with my parents for the weekend so were already in Oxford). A lot of the items in the exhibition came from the Griffith Institute, who have all the papers and so on relating to Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The first third of the exhibition was about the discovery itself. It started with a bit of biographical information about Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon before moving on to the discovery and the start of the excavation. This section included some of the original index cards for the objects, and the photographs taken by Harry Burton. As the photos are all in black and white they annotated the… Read More »Discovering Tutankhamun (Exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum)

“Up the Nile with Amelia” Clive Barham Carter (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Clive Barham Carter came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about Amelia Edwards. She was a rather formidable Victorian woman who was the driving force behind the founding of the Egypt Exploration Fund (which became the Egypt Exploration Society). Carter told us about her life, frequently reading from Amelia’s own writings and illustrated by her own watercolour paintings (as far as possible). Amelia was born in the 1830s in Islington, the only child of rather older parents. She described her father as having “indifferent health” and Carter pointed out that this was probably due to her father’s days as a soldier. He’d been a lieutenant in Wellington’s army in the 1812-1815 campaigns which were particularly harsh. Amelia was a multi-talented child – she painted watercolours, she was a musician and she also liked to read. I think Carter said she was educated by tutors, and… Read More »“Up the Nile with Amelia” Clive Barham Carter (EEG Meeting Talk)

“In Quest of Paradise: Accommodating Death in Islam” Lisa Golombek

The third lecture of the Charles Wilkinson lecture series from 2013, “In Quest of Paradise: Accommodating Death in Islam” was given by Lisa Golombek, and I think was the weakest of the three lectures. I’m not sure if this was down to me not having as much context – I know more about Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia than I do about the early centuries of Islam. But it also felt a little shoehorned into the overarching them – Golombek had to start off by explaining that Muslim burials don’t contain grave goods, nor are they supposed to have decoration or external tombs. So not promising ground for a talk in a series about the art of burial! Golombek did find two themes to talk about, however. One of these was the shrouds that the people are buried in. In high status burials these are not just plain cloths, they have… Read More »“In Quest of Paradise: Accommodating Death in Islam” Lisa Golombek

“Adornment for the Afterlife: Jewelry and Identity at Ur and Nimrud” Kim Benzell

The second lecture in the 2013 Charles Wilkinson lecture series was associated with the department of Ancient Near East Art at the MMA, and was called “Adornment for the Afterlife: Jewelry and Identity at Ur and Nimrud”. Kim Benzell, who gave the talk, is one of the curators at the museum and is also a trained goldsmith which gave her quite a different perspective on the ornaments she was talking about. There’s a glitch in the video, which meant we didn’t see the introduction to the talk where she sets the scene and explained what she was looking at but I think we managed to figure it out. The bulk of the talk was about the gold ornaments found in two different burials from Mesopotamia. The first was the tomb of Puabi in Ur, who was a queen or priestess buried around 2500BC. The second was the jewellery from the… Read More »“Adornment for the Afterlife: Jewelry and Identity at Ur and Nimrud” Kim Benzell

“Dealing with the Invisible: Experiencing Egyptian Mythology” Garry Shaw (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Garry Shaw came to the Essex Egyptology Group to give a talk about Egyptian mythology. We’d originally had another speaker booked, but she’d had to cancel at fairly short notice (because she got an opportunity to do some work in Luxor) so Garry Shaw stepped in and gave us a talk related to his new book (The Egyptian Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends which is out on March 17). He started by explaining to us that the point of his book is not to retell the major myths or list the major gods of the Ancient Egyptians, but instead it is to look at how the Egyptians used their mythology to explain the world around them. And to try and provide a window into the worldview of your average Ancient Egyptian. The book is divided into three sections – “what happened before I was… Read More »“Dealing with the Invisible: Experiencing Egyptian Mythology” Garry Shaw (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Freemasonry and Ancient Egypt” Cathie Bryan (EEG Talk)

On Sunday Cathie Bryan came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the influence that Ancient Egypt had on Freemasonry. She started by telling us a bit about Freemasonry & its origins. The modern Freemason movement starts around the early 18th Century & is derived in part from the groups or guilds of stonemasons that existed in the middle ages. Freemasonry uses the paraphernalia of the stonemasons trade (in particular the compass and square) in a symbolic fashion. Part of their mythos comes from a 14th Century document that sets out the history of masonry & the appropriate behaviour for masons, and this traces the history of masonry from Euclid via him “teaching the Egyptians how to be masons”. Obviously, as Bryan pointed out, this is now known to be more than a little impossible given Euclid lived a few millennia after the Egyptians built things like… Read More »“Freemasonry and Ancient Egypt” Cathie Bryan (EEG Talk)

“Metorites in Ancient Egypt” Diane Johnson (EEG Talk)

On Sunday Diane Johnson came to the Essex Egyptology Group meeting to talk to us about meteorites in Ancient Egypt. She’s a physicist who works at the Open University on meteorites, and is also interested in Ancient Egypt. She is combining the two by examining ancient iron objects from Egypt to see if they derive from meteorite iron & has recently published a paper about a bead found in a pre-historic tomb. Johnson opened her talk with a discussion of what meteorites are (in more detail than “rocks that fall from space”). There are three types – rocky, iron & rocky-iron. The iron ones are the ones with most relevance for the rest of the talk, and she briefly discussed their composition. Iron in meteorites is normally nickel rich, around 10%ish (I think she said) and the nickel rich vs. non-nickel rich patterning in the meteorite generally shows similar characteristics… Read More »“Metorites in Ancient Egypt” Diane Johnson (EEG Talk)

TV Watched While We Were Away (Almost All Egypt Related)

While we were visiting J’s parents we watched a few documentaries about ancient Egypt (or related subjects) that they’d recorded from TV channels we don’t have. A bit of a mixed bag – one of them I’d’ve switched off if it was just me (J wasn’t as annoyed by it), but the others were better. Ultimate Tut Ultimate Tut was a documentary about Tutankhamun, presented by Chris Naunton (who’s the Director of the EES), so J had heard of it and was looking forward to the chance to watch it. The focus was on how he died, and how come his burial was so small compared to other Pharaohs, although it also covered a lot of what’s known of the history of the period too. It presented a new theory for how Tutankhamun died – perhaps run down by a chariot on the battlefield. The evidence here comes from the… Read More »TV Watched While We Were Away (Almost All Egypt Related)

Neues Museum, Berlin

As well as the Amarna exhibition (post) J and I spent quite a lot more time in the rest of the Egyptian collections in the Neues Museum. Where we could take photos, and I did – you can find them on flickr and some highlights in this post. Floor 1 (Ground Floor) As you go into the museum the Egyptian collections start on the right hand side with a room they title “Prologue” that covers where they got their material – i.e. the German excavations in Egypt. I’m not, as it happens, particularly interested in 19th Century colonial behaviour by the European nations so I was more looking at the various objects in their own right. Notably this room had some of the original ceilings of the museum, which are painted blue with gold Egyptian style decoration. I particularly liked a pair of objects where they had the vase they… Read More »Neues Museum, Berlin

Im Licht von Amarna (Exhibition at the Neues Museum, Berlin)

Back in March J & I visited Berlin (post) and the main purpose of our visit was to go to the exhibition at the Neues Museum about Amarna – Im Licht von Amarna (In the Light of Amarna). We went in March because the exhibition was originally scheduled to end in mid-April, but I think it’s been extended till early August now. I’ve finally finished processing my photographs from the Neues Museum, originally I was going to post about both the exhibition & the rest of the museum in the same post. However it was turning into a bit of a monster post, so I’ve split it into two and in this post I’m going to talk about the Amarna exhibition (where photography wasn’t permitted). 100 Jahr Fund der Nofretete The premise for this exhibition is that it is 100 years since the famous bust of Nefertiti was found, and… Read More »Im Licht von Amarna (Exhibition at the Neues Museum, Berlin)