In the last talk of the Essex Egyptology Group study day Cédric Gobeil told us about an exciting discovery in the 2014/15 season of a female mummy with several tattoos. He began by giving us some context for the discovery, and showed us some photos of Bernard Bruyère's excavations of the eastern & western necropolises. Bruyère wasn't interested in the human remains, he was only interested in the amulets etc that he could find on these mummies.
In the third talk at the Essex Egyptology Group study day Cédric Gobeil broadened his focus to tell us about the work carried out by the whole team over the last 7 years - his time as director. His aims when he took on the job were threefold: to restore & preserve the archaeological structures, to enhance the site with the development of a site management programme and to continue the study of the monuments & objects (both in situ and in the storerooms).
In his second talk of the Essex Egyptology Group study day Cédric Gobeil told us about his own personal work (as opposed to the work he oversaw as director). The original publications of the tombs at Deir el-Medina were some time ago, and the photographs were all in black & white and were supplemented by drawings that aren't to modern standards. And so the tombs need to be re-examined and republished - Gobeil has been working on tomb TT250.
In April the Essex Egyptology Group held its annual study day. This year the subject was the workmen's village at Deir el-Medina with four talks given by Cédric Gobeil who was director of the French archaeological mission to the site for several years (before he became the Director of the Egypt Exploration Society in 2016). I've split my write-up into four parts, and this one covers the first talk.
In April Susanne Bickel came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about the work she and her team have been doing in the Valley of the Kings for the last decade - mostly re-excavating previously known tombs with the benefit of modern archaeological methods, but they also discovered a new tomb in 2012.
At the beginning of February Ramadan Hussein came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group about the work he is doing at Saqqara. He works for Tübingen University, and is leading a joint German/Egyptian team who are investigating some of the Saite Period (26th Dynasty) tombs at Saqqara.
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.
At the beginning of November Penny Wilson visited the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about myths & legends of the Delta region of Egypt. Wilson is involved in archaeological work in the Delta, and is currently writing a book about the region as there isn't one already. One of her areas of interest is whether there is a distinct Delta culture during the Ancient Egyptian period.
This year's Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Egyptology was given by Jochem Kahl on the subject of the city of Asyut. He started by setting the scene with a thematically appropriate quote from Amelia Edwards, who visited the city in 1843. She described how as she approached it looked like a fairytale city on the Nile, but on arrival she was much less impressed with the prosaic reality of the modern city.