In December Meghan Strong, a PhD student (about to submit her thesis!) at Cambridge, came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about the use of artificial light in Ancient Egyptian ritual. Light in ritual is something we're still familiar with in the modern world - think of Divali, Advent (or the Easter Vigil service), Hannukah and many other examples. Strong's argument is that the Ancient Egyptians were no different from modern people in this respect.
In November a group of us from the Essex Egyptology Group had the chance to visit parts of the British Museum that aren't generally open to the public - some of the storerooms where the 95% of the Egyptian artifacts that aren't on display are held. I'd been on one of these trips before several years ago, so was pleased at the chance to go again - partly because it's a chance to see items you don't normally see, and partly because it would be someone different showing us round so we would see different things.
At the November meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group Vincent Oeters talked to us about the Step Pyramid of Djoser - in particular the inside of it. He doesn't himself work on the Step Pyramid, but while he was working (as an archaeologist) nearby he was able to go into it three times (with the permission of and accompanied by an Inspector from the Ministry of Antiquities, as it's not generally open to tourists). And one of those times he was also allowed to take photos! And it was those photos that formed the core of his talk.
Back in October of last year J and I spent a few days in Turin - I've not been very efficient with processing my photos and so I'm only getting around to writing about it now. The primary reason for our visit was to see the Egyptian Museum in Turin, but we left enough time to see other things as well. I've put up an album of my photos on flickr, and some highlights in this post.
The British Museum have a new Egyptian related exhibition that opened on Thursday, so of course J felt we had to go as soon as we could. He took the day off on Friday and we first went to the curator's introduction talk (given by John Taylor) and then visited the exhibition itself. I'd been going to write abuot the talk and the exhibition separately, but the talk really was an introduction, overview and some additional context for the exhibition rather than something separate.
Due to a dead car battery on Sunday afternoon, J and I couldn't make it to the April Essex Egyptology Group meeting (a real shame, it was given by Wolfram Grajetzki who had done a talk for the group at the Petrie Museum last year (post)). So when we got back from our attempt to go to Witham we watched a lecture that J had previously found on youtube about Old Kingdom tomb decoration.
A couple of weeks ago we visited J's sister & family in Macclesfield for a weekend, and spent the Saturday in Manchester. In the afternoon J and I had a look around the recently refurbished Egyptian collection at the Manchester Museum - it had been nearly 5 years since we last went to that museum, and we were interested to see what they'd changed. I didn't have my proper camera with me (because we were going to see Maxïmo Park play that evening) so the photos I took were on my phone.
The third and final episode of Treasures of Ancient Egypt covered the period from Ramesses II through to Cleopatra. In terms of the history of the period this can be seen as a long slow decline from the height of New Kingdom power through several foreign dynasties to the annexing of Egypt by the Roman Empire.
The second episode of Alastair Sooke's series about the art of Ancient Egypt covered the Middle Kingdom (briefly) and most of the New Kingdom. He only picked a couple of objects from the Middle Kingdom - both from Senusret III's reign. He gave the impression that this is because the New Kingdom was the Golden Age, which is true in some ways, but the Egyptians themselves looked back at the Middle Kingdom as their "classical age" where art and culture first achieved great heights.
There's a new series just started called Treasures of Ancient Egypt, so of course we're watching it not long after it airs (the day after, actually, but because of the way I've scheduled my blog posts this post has gone live 8 days after). The series is presented by Alastair Sooke, and is similar in format to the Treasures of Ancient Rome series that he did a while ago (post).