The second of the two talks we went to at the British Museum Members' Open Evening the other week was about the small exhibition of Zoroastrian and related pieces that has recently opened at the BM. This is in some ways a related exhibition to the larger Zoroastrian exhibition at SOAS which finishes soon (we went to see it the other day so I shall be writing that up soon). In this post I'm going to talk about both the exhibition and the curator's talk.rather than split them into separate posts.
A couple of weeks ago we had a day out in London visiting the British Museum. During the day we mainly went to see their El Dorado exhibition (which I'll write up later) and in the evening we went to two gallery talks at the Members' Open Evening (one of which is what I'm talking about here, the other one will be tomorrow). My photos related to both these talks are up on flickr here.
This Sunday's talk at the Essex Egyptology Group was given by Hannah Pethen, on the subject of the ritual activities that took place at Ancient Egyptian mines & quarries. She had narrowed her focus a bit from the title of the talk - she restricted herself to the pre-New Kingdom era, and concentrated primarily on what's known of the Middle Kingdom rituals after some introductory words about Old Kingdom & First Intermediate period evidence.
On Sunday Cathie Bryan came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the influence that Ancient Egypt had on Freemasonry. She started by telling us a bit about Freemasonry & its origins. The modern Freemason movement starts around the early 18th Century & is derived in part from the groups or guilds of stonemasons that existed in the middle ages. Freemasonry uses the paraphernalia of the stonemasons trade (in particular the compass and square) in a symbolic fashion.
Last Wednesday a group of us from the Essex Egyptology Group went to visit the Egypt Exploration Society's offices in London. Once we'd all arrived Jo Kyffin started off with a half hour talk on the history of the Society & an overview of what they do nowadays. The Society started life as the brainchild of a formidable Victorian woman called Amelia Edwards.
On Sunday Diane Johnson came to the Essex Egyptology Group meeting to talk to us about meteorites in Ancient Egypt. She's a physicist who works at the Open University on meteorites, and is also interested in Ancient Egypt. She is combining the two by examining ancient iron objects from Egypt to see if they derive from meteorite iron & has recently published a paper about a bead found in a pre-historic tomb.
The August meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group was a change from the usual format. Instead of a guest speaker we had four 10 minute talks from members of the group (there should've been 5 talks, but sadly one didn't happen for technical reasons).
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.