Egyptian Hieroglyphs – Maiken Mosleth King, Bristol University

I have just undertaken and completed the above course, and how very challenging it proved to be!  Maiken put together a great course, and even though a complete novice in the subject, I enjoyed it, learned and lot; and above all, realised how very complicated are Egyptian Hieroglyphics – and how very much more there is to learn!!

I take my hat off the all those who can read and understand the texts.  I especially raise it to Jean-François Champollion, who in 1822, using the then recently found Rosetta Stone, (written in 3 different languages: ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics, ancient Egyptian Demotic, and classical Greek) was finally able to finally break the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Building on some of the texts interpreted by other early linguists, and using his extensive knowledge of languages, including Greek and ancient Egyptian Coptic, Champollion finally succeeded in breaking the code of hieroglyphics – a lost language for around 2000 years. Incredibly, only 2 years later, he published ‘Summary of the Hieroglyphics System’, and the world could finally begin to translate, interpret and understand the fabulous, long-lost world of ancient Egypt!

Clearly the world of Ancient Egypt owes a great deal to those early people, and especially to Jean-François Champollion!  Well done, that man!!

Posted in The Kemet Klub, University of Bristol

Reflections on Queen Tiye – Dr. Robert Morkot, University of Exeter

Dr Robert Morkot came up from Exeter to talk to us about Queen Tiye – and it was a really good and informative lecture.

Amenhotep III’s Great Royal Wife is one of the most prominent of Egyptian Queens; and Robert posed the questions: ‘What do we know about her?’ and ‘What do we know of her role in this most important of reigns?’   And I soon realised that I knew less than I thought I knew!

Robert took us first through her family tree; what is known and the theories of her origins.  He then took us through what is known of her life, and the influence and what power she had as the Great Royal Wife of the mightiest pharaoh – Amenhotep lll of the mightiest Dynasty – the 18th, in the 3000 years of Empire.

In his talk, Robert also considered the temples built for her, by Amenhotep lll – one of the most prolific and greatest builders in the history of ancient Egypt; and her iconography, which continued to influence images and attitudes of queens in succeeding dynasties and for years to come.

A fascinating and insightful lecture – thank you very much Robert.

Posted in Dr. Robert Morkot, Egyptian Society Taunton, University of Exeter

Images of Eternity – Dr. Campbell Price, Manchester Museum

This was yet another great day; hosted by the Kemet Klub in Bristol, with the terrific Campbell Price, talking about ancient Egyptian statuary; one of his favourite subjects and areas.

Seated Scribe – Saqqara

In his own lively, enthusiastic style he took us through the centuries of statuary and imagery of Ancient Egypt – informing us of the meanings, the changes in style, intention and beliefs inherent in the making of images and statues; along with the eternal expectations for them.

Campbell gave us a day full of new learning, delivered in his usual bouncing, enthusiastic way.  And adding to this really enjoyable day – the usual coffee and cakes were dished out in very generous quantities by the ladies of the Kemet Klub.

Thank Campbell and the Kemet Klub for another lovely, and very informative course.

Posted in Dr. Campbell Price, Manchester Museum, The Kemet Klub

‘Ancient Egypt: New Stories’ – Prof. Joann Fletcher: Hosted by Taunton Literary Festival and the Egyptian Society Taunton

Today we had the most fabulous day!  Joann Fletcher – as seen recently on BBC 2’s series ‘Immortal Egypt’ – came to talk in Taunton as part of the Taunton Literacy Festival; co-hosted by the Egyptian Society Taunton.  It was a very well supported event, the venue was lovely, and full of many enthusiastic fans and attentive listeners – and it proved to be a terrific day!

Joann gave a lively and fascinating talk; based on her latest book, she started with the very early rock-paintings in Egypt from around 20,000 ago, and finished in the final days of the empire.  Through the talk she included many extra enjoyable ‘nuggets’; such as the fact that Amenhotep lll  is her favourite pharaoh; Montuhotep’s wife bit her nails, Ramesses II had a penchant for dying his hair,  and the farmer Baki liked eating in bed.

She was relaxed,  humorous and down-to-earth and it all went towards creating a great presentation!  Joann was friendly and informative, and very generous with her time and knowledge; I think the Q & A’s could have gone on all day; and her book signing was a great success.

The Egyptian Society Taunton was very pleased when Joann agreed to come to Taunton and we were not in any way disappointed; and the committee of EST enjoyed its own moment of reward before the camera with Joann.

So, thanks EST for booking Joann and co-hosting the day; thanks Brendon Books who, very efficiently, staged the event and who along with EST, created such a memorable day in Taunton!
But above all – thanks Joann for coming – we really hope to see you here in Taunton again in the near future!

Posted in Egyptian Society Taunton, Prof. Joann Fletcher, University of York

The Egyptian Labyrinth: A Middle Kingdom Enigma – Prof. Dylan Bickerstaffe

For many years, I have wanted to know the truth and facts behind the fabled ‘Egyptian Labyrinth’ and this comprehensive lecture by Prof. Dylan Bickerstaffe did not disappoint!

Beginning with the Greek and Roman writers Dylan explained where the belief in a ‘Labyrinth’ arose; linking it interestingly back to Knossos and other neraby sites and cultures.

These writers were seemingly adamant that The Labyrinth was Egypt’s greatest wonder; as Herodotus said – ‘surpassing even the pyramids’.  
However, he posed the questions: if that was the case, what sort of building was it, who built it, and why?

In the modern era, it had vanished so completely that several explorers, including the famous/infamous Belzoni, failed to find it, so there is still so much not known.  Being so vast, so comprehensively written about in ancient times, yet almost entirely lost, no wonder it holds so much fascination today.

Dylan went on to trace the ‘rediscovery’ of the Labyrinth, and the excavations and finds made on the site, and the attempts by Petrie and others to reconstruct the form of this unique building.

And that was almost certainly, not a labyrinth at all, but was in fact a 60,000 Sq mtr Temple Complex of Amenemhat lll of the 12th dynasty.
We were shown how modern research has thrown light on the problem, and clues which may be found in surprising, yet familiar places.

Dylan’s talk was comprehensive, detailed and very interesting indeed, however, after raising as many questions as answers, it left me wanting to ‘know yet more of the truth and facts behind the fabled Egyptian Labyrinth’ 

Thanks Dylan, it was a terrific lecture – please come again!

Posted in Egyptian Society Taunton, Uncategorized

Tomb Security in Ancient Egypt from the Predynastic to the Pyramid Age – Dr Reg Clark 

Today we were lucky to have Dr Reg Clark, of Swansea University speaking at the Egyptian Society Taunton, as the first speaker in their 2017/2018 season. 

In this lecture Dr Reg Clark began by saying that this issue has been somewhat overlooked, as until recently most scholarly discussion of tomb security in ancient Egypt tended to be included only as part of a larger work.

He then took us, in fascinating detail through some of the main developments in the architecture and security of both royal and private tombs – from the early pit burials in ancient Egypt, through to the Fourth Dynasty pyramids and mastabas.

He discussed whether many of the familiar architectural elements in Egyptian tombs were in fact the result of this need to protect the tomb, rather than the consequence of monumental or religious considerations.

He also stated that the pyramid itself could in fact be about being the greatest possible mass and ‘footprint’ to cover and protect the entrance to the tombs – and that made me think!        

Having written my own talk on this period, I was aware of the changes – which I had viewed primarily as architectural developments, which indeed they were.  However, Reg’s approach that they were not just to reflect the status of the individual pharaohs;  they were also prompted by the desire to protect both the pharaoh and his funerary goods for eternity, gave me much food for thought.   

It was an original and interesting re-look at the funerary monuments, and one which I enjoyed very much indeed.  Thanks Reg.   

Posted in Egyptian Society Taunton

Two Egyptologies for the price of one!

Today I had a lovely day – with an unexpected extra treat!
I had returned to the beautiful Salisbury Museum to give a second talk to Salisbury U3A Archaeology Group – a group I really enjoy talking to as it is a lovely venue and they are very friendly and welcoming,  interact very well and ask great questions.
This talk From Nomads to Nation – The Settling of the Nile Valley’ looks at the movement of the nomadic people of the Savannah, down into the Nile Valley – and the culture, skills, religious and artistic influences which made possible the development of this amazingly long-lasting and complex ancient empire.

The morning was as enjoyable as I expected to be, and the group was very appreciative, but a further treat followed!  Talking to the group, I discovered that Lucia Gahlin was talking for The Arts Society Salisbury (ex NADFAS)  that afternoon and I immediately decided to stay in the hope of being able to attend Lucia’s talk.

I filled the spare time with a delightful lunch in gorgeous sunshine, in the grounds of Salisbury Museum Cafe, looking towards the glorious cathedral, whilst reading Joann Fletcher’s great book ‘The Story of  Egypt’; and to add the pleasure of the day – lunch was delicious.

I then made my way to the next venue, where I introduced myself and was pleased to be allowed in for Lucia’s talk; ‘Art for the Afterlife – Tomb Scenes and Funerary Goods’.  And yet again, Lucia gave a great talk (she has so many!)

I am very interested in ancient Egyptian ‘art’ – if ‘art’ is what we can really call it – so it was good to have the opportunity to attend this talk, and I enjoyed it very much.
In spite of studying the subject for quite some time now, and also being half-way through writing my own talk on the subject, I learned quite a bit, which was great.

But I also enjoyed being there: listening to a good speaker, on my favourite subject, in this beautiful city – on this lovely afternoon. Truely, my cup runneth over!

Posted in Lucia Gahlin, Prof. Joann Fletcher, Salisbury Museum

Writings from Ancient Egypt by Dr. Toby Wilkinson – Cambridge University

Well, I have just had such a treat – a lecture given by one of my favourite writers and Egyptologists – Dr. Toby Wilkinson.

Toby began by explaining that we usually silently read the writings and texts of ancient Egypt, however, they were not usually intended to be read in silence, but rather to be read out loud.

He then went on to make this lecture a series of readings of writings from his latest book ‘Writings from Ancient Egypt’  – and what a revelation it was.
Beginning with Akhenaten’s ‘Ode to the Aten‘, he then read ‘Wisdom Literature’, ‘Instruction Writings’, humorous pieces and much more.
It was wonderful, he read with style, humour, vigour, pathos and compassion and it was a most entertaining, revealing and very enjoyable afternoon spent with Toby and the Egyptian Society Taunton.  Great stuff indeed!

EST gave a copy of Toby’s book as 1st prize in their raffle and I was disappointed not to have won it.  Toby raised my interest to the point where I must own it, therefore I feel compelled to immediately buy it !  I am sure I am going to enjoy may happy hours reading it.

Posted in Dr. Toby Wilkinson, Egyptian Society Taunton, University of Cambridge

Egypt in the Wider World – Dr. Aidan Dodson of Bristol University

What a treat of a day this was!  We learn of life within ancient Egypt, we learn of events outside of the land of Egypt itself – for example trading, expeditions and wars – all from the Egyptian point of view.

However, in this day-long lecture, Aidan took us through several thousand years of interaction between Egypt and their wider world of the neighboring areas; Mesopotamia, Assyria, Palestine, Africa etc; the Hittites, the Libyans, the Nubians and the Mitannis – then moving on to relationships with the various Mediterranean cultures and peoples – from an international perspective.

Using many maps and documents, along with images from museums around the world Aidan gave us his own ‘guided tour’ through several thousands of years of the complex history of Egypt’s relationships with the lands of the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Aidan discussed the Amarna letters, which uniquely give 2-way information of correspondence between the 18th dynasty pharaohs Amenhotep lll and Akhenaten and their royal contemporaries; of which corresponding, contemporary records exists outside of Egypt.

It was a great day, well spent with Aidan and the Kemet Klub, and once again there was much to learn and much covered – generously provisioned with many scrumptious and delicious cakes provided by the Kemet Klub.  Thank you everyone, a worthwhile day all round.

Posted in Dr. Aidan Dodson, The Kemet Klub, University of Bristol

Sir John Soane’s Museum – Lincoln Inn Fields, London

I have just enjoyed a special weekend in London, spent with some dear friends from Australia.  We had limited time, but I could think of no better place to take them than to the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London.  This is, without doubt, my favourite museum and is a wondrous cornucopia of, what feels like to me, idiosyncrasy and mania.

Sir John Soane was a ‘rags-to-riches story; and he became a successful and wealthy architect, who designed the Bank of England and many more splendid buildings.  He also spent his life and wealth indulging his passion for collecting ancient artefacts; which he did with great dedication and success; and the highlight of which is the unique and very beautiful alabaster sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti l of the 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom.

I had booked a guided tour of the museum and it was fabulous. My friends were fascinated and enchanted, and have since gone home to tell many of their own friends about it
– advising them that, should they find themselves in London, they too must make time for the delightful, curious, stuffed-full and unique home of a very interesting character – Sir John Soane.

We went on to enjoy lunch, a visit around the British Museum (where they asked I show them the Egyptian sections) and finished our day with drinks outside a restaurant in the lovely spring sunshine – and I was very pleased with the day I had given them.

However, without doubt, the highlight was the Sir John Soane’s Museum.  And as I have been known to say many times – if you have not been – then do go; you will love it!

Posted in British Museum - London, Museums and Visits, Sir John Soane Museum