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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
As well as the lecture we also went to a gallery talk at the Open Evening - these are where a curator takes you around some objects of interest in a gallery for 45 minutes or so. The theme of this one tied in with the Shakespeare exhibition, and was in some ways an extension of the central room of the exhibition. Shakespeare set several of his plays in Venice and (as discussed in both the exhibition and this talk) this was for several reasons, including the fact that it allowed him to portray situations that might've got him in trouble if he'd set them in England.
The lecture at this month's British Museum Friends Open Evening ("A Mind Which Could Think Otherwise: Understanding Shakespeare's Creative Intelligence") was tied in with their current major exhibition about Shakespeare (which we went to see a couple of months ago). The lecturer, Neema Parvini, is an academic at the University of Surrey & has written a couple of books about Shakespeare.