The third talk of the Bloomsbury Summer School Study Day about cuneiform was all about the Royal Game of Ur. Irving Finkel is interested in board games as well as being an expert on ancient Mesopotamian cultures and so this game is of particular interest to him. There were six boards for it found the Royal Cemetery of Ur (in southern Iraq) by Leonard Woolley. The photo below is one that I took of the board on display in the British Museum. These boards date from around 2600BC and for a long time they were the only game boards of this sort to be found.
For the second part of his Bloomsbury Summer School study day on cuneiform Irving Finkel talked about the Cyrus cylinder which was found in Iraq during excavation at Babylon in 1872. It is a cylinder of baked clay which is covered in cuneiform writing, and you can see it at the British Museum. The largest part actually belongs to the BM, and there's another fragment that they have on permanent loan from Yale. (My photo below is actually of a replica, I think the real thing was on loan somewhere at the time I took the photo a couple of years ago.)
On Sunday Birgitte Balanda came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the internal decoration of some Napatan royal tombs and explain what it tells us about the Napatan's funerary rituals & beliefs. Napata is the name given to the culture that existed in Upper Nubia between the third & fifth cataracts of the Nile from around 800BC to 300BC. The dynasty who ruled the Napatans were also the 25th Dynasty Pharaohs of Egypt - most well known of which is Taharqa.
At the end of February the Bloomsbury Summer School had a study day on cuneiform, presented by Irving Finkel called "The Wonder of Cuneiform: A Passionate Exploration of Some of Mesopotamia's Most Important Ancient Records".
On Sunday Hannah Pethen came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about the Harem Palace at Gurob. The first half of her talk gave us context for the site - where it is, what it is and who has excavated there before. And the second half moved on to the work that's been done there in the last decade.
On Sunday Sarah Doherty came to talk to the Essex Egyptology Group about the ongoing excavations at Gebel Silsila (or Gebel el Silsila, her slides used the two name interchangeably). She split her talk into two halves (so we could have tea and cake in the middle) - the first half was about the work done at the site in 2012 and 2013, the second half covered 2014 and the plans for the future.
On Sunday Jennifer Palmer came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk about Herihor, who was High Priest of Amun in the reign of Ramesses XI and also called himself King. This is a complicated period of Egyptian history and there are several different views among Egyptologists. Palmer was presenting us with both an overview of the controversies and also her own opinions on the subject.
On Sunday Renee Friedman came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk about the latest discoveries she and her team have been making at the site of Hierakonpolis. First she put the site itself into context. It was an important pre-dynastic Egyptian city, situated just north of modern Edfu, called Nekhen (and later Hierakonpolis by the Greeks).
On Sunday David Falk came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about his research on Egyptian Ritual Processional Furniture. He comes at the subject from a bit of a different angle from the speakers we generally hear - his central question is what can this Egyptian furniture tell us about the Ark of the Covenant, and the context in which the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) was written.
On Sunday Dylan Bickerstaffe came to speak at the Essex Egyptology Group meeting about the 18th Dynasty tombs in the Valley of the Kings. He structured his talk around the order of discovery of the tombs, and concentrated on those related to the Amarna era (from Amenhotep III through to Horemheb). As well as telling us what is known he spent a lot of time telling us what is less well understood - the facts in need of an explanation (generally giving his own theories and discussing those of others).