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“Marriage in Ancient Egypt” Lucia Gahlin (EEG Meeting Talk)

Last Sunday Lucia Gahlin came to the Essex Egyptology Group meeting and talked to us about marriage in Ancient Egyptian society. She started off by explaining that the talk was originally prepared around the time of the Royal Wedding because she was requested to give a talk about Egyptian Royal Weddings somewhere, to be topical. It wasn’t actually possible for her to do that, because there’s no evidence for a ceremony that could be called a wedding in Ancient Egypt even though there were partnerships that we can call marriages. So marriage in Ancient Egypt is the subject of the talk. First she spoke a little bit about marriages of the Pharaohs. It’s known Pharaohs had one or more wives through the whole period of Ancient Egyptian history (obviously …) but it’s only in the New Kingdom and later that they begin to be distinguished from one another by titles… Read More »“Marriage in Ancient Egypt” Lucia Gahlin (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Monuments to Amun-Ra ‘King of the Gods’: The Temples of Thebes” George Hart (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday George Hart came to the Essex Egyptology Group to give us a talk about the temples at Thebes. He started by talking about the god to whom most of them were dedicated: Amun-Ra. Amun was a creator god from at least Old Kingdom times – he is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts on the wall of Unas’s pyramid. He starts to rise to prominence during the Middle Kingdom and Hart showed us a few reliefs from this era and used them as illustration of Amun’s name & iconography. The name “Amun” literally means “hidden one” or “self-concealing one”, it’s not so much a name as a reference to the god. Hart said the belief was that if Amun’s true name were ever known then the people who heard it would drop down dead, it was that powerful & that much of a secret. This is also why the… Read More »“Monuments to Amun-Ra ‘King of the Gods’: The Temples of Thebes” George Hart (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Mummies, Asps and Far Too Much Eye Make-up: Ancient Egypt in the Cinema” John J Johnston (EEG Meeting Talk)

I’ll admit I was a little dubious in advance of May’s Essex Egyptology Group meeting – I don’t really watch many films, so a whole talk about Ancient Egypt in the cinema had the potential to be completely incomprehensible or boring or both. Thankfully, it was neither 🙂 And this was down to the fact that the speaker, John J Johnston, was very entertaining and good at explaining what he was talking about even if you hadn’t ever seen the film in question. His talk had three main strands, which were those listed in the title – mummies, asps (i.e. films about Cleopatra) and far too much eye make-up (everything else). The first half concentrated on films about mummies. I knew there was a film called “The Mummy”, what I hadn’t realised is that there were several films with that name each of which came complete with sequels. Johnston took… Read More »“Mummies, Asps and Far Too Much Eye Make-up: Ancient Egypt in the Cinema” John J Johnston (EEG Meeting Talk)

EEG Trip to the Petrie Museum

On Saturday about 20 of us from the Essex Egyptology Group went to the Petrie Museum for a tour. We were shown round first by Tracey Golding, the Visitors Services Officer, who gave us an introduction to the museum. It is part of UCL and was founded to house the collection of items that Petrie dug up in his excavations in Egypt. There are 80,000 objects in the collection, of which about 10% are on display. To fit everything into the relatively small space that they have in the museum (about a quarter to a third of the space is shown in the first photo below) the cases are very full and the labels are pretty minimal. However every item is numbered and you can look them all up on the museum website and learn more about it. Golding pointed out some of the highlights of the collection including some… Read More »EEG Trip to the Petrie Museum

“Farming & Agriculture in the Nile Valley” Victor Blunden (EEG Meeting Talk)

Victor Blunden’s talk at the EEG meeting this Sunday wasn’t called “What the Ordinary Ancient Egyptian Did All Day” but I think that would’ve been a pretty good alternative title 🙂 Early on his talk he pointed out that 90% of the population of Ancient Egypt were peasant farmers, who grew the food that the country survived on. I thought this was particularly good timing for this talk because we’d just been watching Joann Fletcher’s programmes on the BBC about Kha and Merit, where she was referring to them as “ordinary Egyptians” and I felt they were high status even if they weren’t part of the elite. So here was a talk about the real ordinary Egyptians, focussing on their farming methods. Blunden opened his talk by discussing how the Egyptians divided the year into three seasons – the inundation (ahket, June-Sept), the growing season (peret, Oct-Jan) and the harvest… Read More »“Farming & Agriculture in the Nile Valley” Victor Blunden (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Egypt’s So-Called First Intermediate Period and the Tomb of Ankhtifi” Glenn Godenho (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday’s meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group we had a talk from Glenn Godenho about an egyptian tomb that he is involved in excavating & the things it can tell us about the First Intermediate Period in Ancient Egyptian history. He started off by setting the First Intermediate Period in context – this is a stretch of time between the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom (around 2000BC). He sketched out the end of the Old Kingdom for us, starting from a high point (the time of the Giza pyramids in the 4th Dynasty) through to the 6th & 7th Dynasties. At the end of this time the power of the Pharaoh and the central government was in decline, and the power of regional governors was rising. Then there’s a 100 year period where there doesn’t seem to’ve been any effective central government at all – Egypt wasn’t a… Read More »“Egypt’s So-Called First Intermediate Period and the Tomb of Ankhtifi” Glenn Godenho (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Man in a Cretan Cloak: JDS Pendlebury at Amarna” Rosalind Janssen (EEG Meeting Talk)

Sunday’s talk at the Essex Egyptology Group meeting was given by Rosalind Janssen and she told us about the life and death of John Devitt Stringfellow Pendlebury. He was an archaeologist in the 1930s who worked in Crete and in Egypt (at Amarna, the site of Akhenaten’s new city). When WWII broke out he joined the British Intelligence Service, and was killed in Crete during the war at the age of 36. There wasn’t much egyptology in this talk, it was all about Pendlebury the person and the legend. He was a larger than life character whose heroic death during the war added extra glamour to his persona. And you could say he’s the Marmite of egyptological personalities – Janssen mentioned a few times that he’s a hero of hers, but also pointed out that there are other people who regard him as overly flamboyant and romantic in his approach… Read More »“Man in a Cretan Cloak: JDS Pendlebury at Amarna” Rosalind Janssen (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Digging in the Delta” Rebecca Bradshaw (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Rebecca Bradshaw came to the Essex Egyptology Group to give a talk on the archaeology she did in the Delta area of Egypt earlier this year. She’s currently a PhD student at the University of London, and she had asked the EEG (and other Egyptology societies) for help with funding her trip to the Delta to get archaeological experience between her MPhil & her PhD (the trip was originally planned for spring 2011, but had to be postponed because of the unrest in Egypt). The group had given her a donation towards her expenses, with the request that she come & talk to us about the work when she was back – and this was that talk. The work she was doing is part of the Western Delta Survey, a long term project that is currently run by Penelope Wilson (Durham University), and was split into two parts… Read More »“Digging in the Delta” Rebecca Bradshaw (EEG Meeting Talk)

“Felines – fact and fiction in Ancient Egypt” Joyce Filer (EEG meeting talk)

Sunday was the October meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group and our speaker this month was Joyce Filer. She used to be the Curator of Human and Animal Remains at the British Museum, and for one of her masters degrees her dissertation subject was cats in Egypt which is what she was talking to us about. Her talk covered quite a lot of ground during the hour & a half she was speaking. Part of it was about the more modern representations of Egyptian cats – quite a few 19th Century oil paintings scattered through her slides, all with black cats in and the occasional tiger skin. One of her main themes was how this was actually a completely unrealistic depiction of what ancient Egyptian cats would have been like. She showed us pictures of a few species of wild cats that are prevalent in the area, most of them… Read More »“Felines – fact and fiction in Ancient Egypt” Joyce Filer (EEG meeting talk)