All reviews express the views and opinions of their authors.
“Perceptions of Seth” – Dr Ian Taylor (December 2019)
In December 2019 Dr Ian Taylor, one of our members, talked to the group about the subject of his PhD: Seth. 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 and 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. Contrary to Plutarch’s depiction for most of Pharaonic Egypt Seth is an accepted part of the pantheon, often acting in concert with Horus as an equal. Even in Ptolemaic times he’s necessary – to kill Apep but also to murder Osiris as without that murder the myth does not work. Click to download this meeting review.
“Reconstructing the Mid-Second Millennium BCE Using Scarab Amulets” – Stephanie Boonstra (November 2019)
Stephanie Boonstra worked on scarab amulets for both her MA and PhD. In her talk to the group in November 2019 she gave us an overview of scarab amulets – their types and how they were produced. She then discussed what they can tell us about the politics and trade using a Second Intermediate Period scarab workshop in the Levant as a case study, and her work on 18th Dynasty scarab workshops. Click to download this meeting review.
“Travellers and Pilgrims Under the Last Pharaohs: Recent Investigations by the Oxford Expedition to El Kab” – Luigi Prada (October 2019)
Luigi Prada is part of the Oxford Expedition to el Kab, and in October 2019 he talked to the group about his work on that project. In his talk he gave us an overview of el Kab’s history, and of the excavations that have taken place there, before moving on to tell us about the Oxford Expedition’s epigraphic work and in particular his own work on graffiti at the site from the Late Period and Graeco-Roman period. Click to download this meeting review.
“Pharaonic Purification Scenes in the Graeco-Roman Period” – Konstantin Ivanov (September 2019)
In September 2019 Konstantin Ivanov came to talk to us about scenes showing purification of the Pharaoh in Graeco-Roman period temples. He is studying these scenes firstly because they are telling us something about an important part of Egyptian culture – purity was a requirement before someone could enter the temple, so the Pharaoh must also be purified when he comes to the temple. And secondly because not a lot of work has been done on these scenes. Gardiner published on the subject in 1950 and that’s still the most cited text. It’s even cited by people discussing Ptolemaic Period temples, despite Gardiner explicitly saying he’s not covering that period! As well as that gap there is also new evidence available, so Ivanov did a large scale comprehensive study of purification scenes for his Masters thesis. Click to download this meeting review.
“Ancient Egyptian Thought in the Old Testament” – Lorna Oakes (August 2019)
Lorna Oakes came to talk to us in August 2019 about the parallels between Ancient Egyptian literary sources and the Old Testament. In her lecture she covered several sorts of literature including myths, legends, hymns and prayers and prophecy and gave us examples of stories that show the influence of Ancient Egyptian thought on the Old Testament. Click to download this meeting review.
“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 (July 2019)
Antonio J. Morales is the leader of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project, and in July 2019 he talked to us about the work of this project. The tombs the project is interested in are the Middle Kingdom tombs at Deir el-Bahri which date to many centuries before Hatshepsut built her famous temple at the site. Although the area was previously excavated (by Herbert Winlock amongst others) there is still a lot to be discovered at the site. Click to download this meeting review.
“Missed and Underrated Criteria for Authenticating Egyptian Artefacts” – Marcel Marée (June 2019)
Marcel Marée talked to us in June 2019 about the criteria he uses to authenticate Ancient Egyptian artefacts and detect modern forgeries. A lot of people bring artefacts to the British Museum to be authenticated, including art dealers, and so he’s interested in improving and systematising the authentication process. Often experts rely on intuition, but that relies on such a breadth of knowledge that not many people can be sure they are right. Artistic merit is also often used as an indicator of authenticity, but that’s a dangerous criterion to rely on as pieces that look like they are good quality are not necessarily old (nor vice versa). In this talk he laid out the criteria he looks at when he’s examining an artefact – several criteria because one is rarely sufficient to determine whether or not the object is a fake. Click to download this meeting review.
“Shalfak: A Middle Kingdom Fortress in Lake Nubia” – Claudia Näser (May 2019)
In May 2019 Claudia Näser talked to us about her work excavating at the fortress Shalfak in Lake Nubia. Shalfak is an ancient Egyptian fortress, part of a chain built along the Nile during the Middle Kingdom in Nubia. These forts were once thought to have all been drowned in the lake that was formed when the High Dam was built in the 1960s. In the early 21st Century Google maps images showed that two of the drowned forts were actually above the water level of the lake and projects were begun to re-excavate them with modern techniques. Näser is the leader of one of these projects, and her team started work at Shalfalk in 2016. Click to download this meeting review.
“Tomb Security in Ancient Egypt from the Predynastic to the Pyramid Age” – Dr Reg Clark (April 2019)
Reg Clark came to talk to us in April 2019 about the work he did for his PhD on tomb security from Prehistoric to Early Dynastic Egypt. While there 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 have not been much studied in their own right prior to Clark’s own research. Click to download this meeting review.
“Decrees, Papyri and Biographies in the Age of the Pyramids” – Nigel Strudwick (March 2019)
In March 2019 Nigel Strudwick returned to the 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 (review published in the August 2016 Newsletter). 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. Click to download this meeting review.
“Ancient Egyptian and Nubian Leather Technology” – Lucy Skinner (February 2019)
Lucy Skinner has been a conservator working on leather for years, working on both European leather and Egyptian leather. In February 2019 she talked to us about the subject of her PhD research which is investigating the way that Ancient Egyptian and Nubian leather was made – the materials used and the processes followed, how these changed over time and how they compare to European leather production methods. Click to download this meeting review.
“The Coffins of Nespawershefyt and Pakepu at the Fitzwilliam Museum” – Helen Strudwick (December 2018)
Helen Strudwick came to talk to us about two sets of coffins that are part of the collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where she is curator. She chose these coffins as the subject of her talk because she has recently been working on them a lot and they make for an interestingly contrasting pair. The first set of coffins she talked about belonged to a man called Nespawershefyt, who lived during the 21st Dynasty (c. 1000 BCE). And the second set were for Pakepu, who lived during the 25th Dynasty, c. 640 BCE. Click to download this meeting review.
EEG Trip to the Ashmolean Museum in November 2018
In November a small group of us visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to be given a tour of the Early Egypt Gallery focusing on the Hierakonpolis Ivories by the curator Liam McNamara. Click to download this trip review.
“Papyrology and the EES: Riches from Rubbish Tips” – Dr Margaret Mountford (November 2018)
Margaret Mountford’s talk in November 2018 had two interrelated subjects. First she told us about the Egypt Exploration Society and its history. Then she went into more detail about one of the groups of objects found by an EES excavation: the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which she had studied for her PhD. Click to download this meeting review.
“Exploring Egypt Through Woodcraft” – Gersande Eschenbrenner-Dieme (October 2018)
In October 2018 Gersande Eschenbrenner-Dieme discussed her research into wooden objects from Ancient Egypt, talking about how through close study of the different woods used for objects, the large range of different styles and the methods of manufacture, it is possible to build a detailed picture of the way wood was imported into Egypt, how the products of different workshops were transported across Egypt and how the variations of style and manufacture reflect changes in Ancient Egyptian society, government, economics and religion during the Middle Bronze Age. Click to download this meeting review.
“Egypt’s Origins: The View from Mesopotamia and Iran” – Paul Collins (September 2018)
Paul Collins’s research interests include the material culture of ancient Iraq and Iran in the late 4th Millennium BCE, and the transmission of artistic forms across the Near East and Egypt. The last of these was his topic for his talk to the group in September 2018, in particular the influences that Uruk culture (in Mesopotamia) and Proto-Elamite culture (in Iran) had on Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt. Click to download this meeting review.
“Flies, Lions and Oyster Shells: Military Awards or Tea for Two” – Taneash Sidpura (August 2018)
Taneash Sidpura talked to us in August 2018 about his PhD research on three types of item (golden flies, golden lions and golden oyster shells) which are often thought to be awards given out by Pharaoh to recognise military valour. Having investigated these objects and their contexts he disagrees with this assessment and thinks that their significance was that they were gold and given by Pharaoh but that this was not linked to military performance. Click to download this meeting review.
“A Middle Kingdom Mortuary Ritual Reflected in Writing: A Case Study from Asyut” – Ilona Regulski (July 2018)
In July 2018 Ilona Regulski gave us a talk on some Middle Kingdom papyri from Asyut that she has worked on. These papyri have coffin texts on them, some of which are templates for copying onto coffins and some are a personalised mortuary ritual (and an associated letter) for a man named Sedekh. In her talk she told us about the various ways of investigating these documents to learn more about the content of the texts and the person to whom they were addressed. Click to download this meeting review.
“The Tomb of Tatia at Saqqara” – Vincent Oeters (June 2018)
Vincent Oeters visited in June 2018 to tell us about his work on a Ramesside era tomb chapel at Saqqara, which he studied for his Masters degree. This was part of a wider project by the Museum at Leiden, Leiden University and the Turin Museum excavating the New Kingdom tombs at the site of Saqqara. Click to download this meeting review.
“Kings from Kush: Egypt’s 25th Dynasty” – Dr. Robert Morkot (May 2018)
Dr. Robert Morkot’s talk at the May 2018 meeting was about the Kings from Kush, the 25th Dynasty. His talk was split into two parts – first he told us about what evidence we have for the Kushites and their time ruling Egypt, and then he put it all together to tell us what the modern reconstruction of the period is. Click to download this meeting review.
“Tending to the Dead: Rites, Texts and an Embalming Workshop at Saqqara” – Dr. Ramadan Hussein (February 2018)
This is the second half of Ramadan Hussein’s talk that he gave in February 2018. During this part of the talk Hussein told us about the exciting new discoveries that he and his team made at Saqqara which were announced by the Ministry of Antiquities in July 2018. These included an embalmer’s workshop dating to the 26th Dynasty, and the burial place for a local community which was used across a significant period of time in antiquity. Click to download this meeting review.