Macro to Micro: from Ancient Egyptian Society to the Amulets of Daily Life with Lucia Gahlin

Once again, Lucia Gahlin, in conjunction with the Kemet Klub, delivered a great course.  This one looked into the detail of life in ancient Egypt – by breaking the lectures into Four Topics: Community, Settlement, House, Amulets – and very interesting it was too.

Lucia began with this statue of Horemheb, in this scribal pose, before he became pharaoh.  The rolls of fat are indicative of social status – a form of representation which goes back to the Old Kingdom.  Here, in addition to the paunch, there is the low-line of the kilt; which is more the style of this period of the mid 18th Dynasty.

We looked in detail at the culture of Ancient Egypt; Egyptian towns and cities; communities; Priests and funerary Chapels and monuments; and we looked at life in Amarna and the changes in the land during this disruptive period.  We moved on to hierarchy and positions in court,  honorific titles – what they represented and how they might be understood today.  We looked at houses and homes; marriage contracts, literary texts; we investigated tombs of military scenes and weaponry – and very much more.

Lucia discussed what it meant to be a scribe in ancient Egypt, and the earliest known written papyri; the 4th dynasty (Old Kingdom) diary of  Merer.  Discovered at Wadi el-Jarf, it referred to ‘The Horizon of Khufu’ – Khufu’s Great Pyramid at Giza.  It was a fascinating insight into life around the provisioning of the world’s most famous monument.

During this comprehensive 6-lecture course, Lucia covered an incredible amount – from detailed discussions of the grand monuments – down to tiny amulets, and what they all represented for life in ancient Egypt across the different sections of society, from the elite to the workers – a fascinating insight indeed.

Thanks once again Lucia and The Kemet Klub for another detailed, comprehensive and great course.

Posted in Lucia Gahlin, The Kemet Klub, University College of London - UCL

Hatshepsut –  A trio of Lectures on Egypt’s ‘Female King’ – Lucia Gahlin, Dr. Aidan Dodson and Dr. Bernadette Brady

What a fantastic day this day was;  arranged by Bristol’s Kemet Klub, we were lucky to have three experts to talk to us.

Lucia Gahlin began the day by giving an excellent talk on Hatsheptsut herself; her coming to the throne, her co-regency and reign, and the ultimate removal of her name and images from the Egyptian monuments and writings; the intention of which was her removal from ancient Egyptian history.

Next, Dr. Aidan Dodson went on to tell us all about her monuments and especially, her wonderful and very beautiful Mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri at Thebes, close to the Valley of the Kings; designed by Senenmut,  an important architect and government official in the court of Hatshepsut.

Finally, to finish the day with a ‘big-bang’, Dr. Bernadette Brady (Cultural Astronomer and Astrologer) gave a truly fascinating talk on the gorgeous Astronomical Ceiling in the tomb of the High Official, Senenmut.  I had heard Bernadette talk on this before, yet still found it absolutely fascinating and spell-binding!

It was an wonderful and very informative day; and we enjoyed it immensely.  I returned home tired, but delighted with my Hatshepsut-fest-day.

Thanks Ali and the committee of the Kemet Klub for bringing these three excellent speakers together on our behalf – we are lucky indeed to have you.

Posted in Dr. Aidan Dodson, Dr. Bernadette Brady, Lucia Gahlin, The Kemet Klub, University College of London - UCL, University of Bristol

‘Deir el-Medina: Boys Behaving Badly’ – Rosalind Janssen, UCL

Rosalind Janssen is known to be a bit of an expert on Deir el-Medina (the ancient name ‘Set Maat’ – translates as ‘The Place of Truth’) and this was a talk with a difference.

Deir el-Medina was the workers village; home for those who worked on and in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom.
It is a very important site and much work and research has been carried out there.  I remember visiting it when I lived in Egypt and found it quite fascinating – visualising the lives of those who lived there so long ago.

Rosalind brought a new slant with her talk;  looking into the records, revealing the drunken and disorderly behaviour of some of the inhabitants – the young men of the village.

As is the norm with the ancient Egyptians, detailed records were made and kept of the various events, and thanks to their careful record keeping, here we were, all these many centuries later, listening to the litany of wrong-doings – fabulous!

It was amusing, entertaining and most enjoyable.  It is always good when a speaker takes us away from the usual approach and into a new realm, so thank you Rosalind!

Posted in Egyptian Society Taunton, Rosalind Janssen - UCL, Universities, University College of London - UCL

Mythologising of a Pharaoh: Akhenaten, Deformed or Divine? Lucian Gahlin – UCL

Yet again, I have enjoyed another of Lucia Gahlin‘s excellent lectures at Dillington House.

Having already written my own lecture on this enigmatic and fascinating pharaoh:  Akhenaten – The ‘Heretic’ King”;  I was really interested to hear what Lucia had to offer.  And, as always, I was not disappointed:  she gave a great talk, with a  new insight into our ‘understanding’ of this incredible time in the history of Ancient Egypt – the mighty 18th Dynasty.

Concentrating on past research and writings on this tumultuous period, and opinions which had been influenced by personal prejudices or attitudes of the day, Lucia revealed how fanciful and even misleading some of them have been.  She discussed how this had at times resulted in inaccurate and misleading information; thus showing how risky it is to introduce personal bias or to ‘mythologise’ a character – especially one from so long ago; one of whom so little is known as absolute and verifiable fact.

It was a very enjoyable and most thought-provoking lecture and one I was very pleased I attended, as always with Lucia.

Thanks again Lucia – I look forward to the next lecture

Posted in Dillington House, Lucia Gahlin, University College of London - UCL

Dreams in Ancient Egypt – Lucia Gahlin

I have just enjoyed another ‘dreamy’ day with Lucia Gahlin at Dillington House – always a winner. For this talk, Lucia investigated the significance of dreams in Ancient Egypt; what they meant, how they were understood and what a bad, or good and happy dream might mean.

To begin we ‘looked upon’ dreams: the religion, literature and politics surrounding their dreams – and at the verbal usage; Sleep was a noun and there was no verb ‘to sleep’.

tutl71It was considered that death and sleep was a bridge to the ‘other world’ and how sleepers could see into that world, but were unable to enter it (the ‘Other World’, the ‘After-Life’ being the realm of the dead, not the living).

We learned about Healing and Horrors: the use of dreams in healing; what they could do to ward off bad dreams – they were never to be spoken out loud.

220px-reproductionofdreamsteleofthutmoseiv-closeup_rosicrucianegyptianmuseumShe investigated what it all meant; dream interpretations and the Ramesside Book of Dreams, and, of course ‘The Dream Stele of Thutmose IV’ at the Great Sphinx of Giza.

Having studied so much of the daily and material lives of the Ancient Egyptians, it was very interesting to get an insight into something even less tangible and prescribed.

Thanks again Lucia – I had a great day and a great night!
– And having concentrated to take it in,  I felt the to-sleepneed to go home and:

 

Posted in Dillington House, Lucia Gahlin, University College of London - UCL

‘Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization’ – Created by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

penn-logoI have just completed and passed this free on-line course which was run by University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology via Coursera.  

I signed up, thinking it would be too basic a course, for me, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  I found it an interesting, well-organised and structured course, with video lectures and some excellent graphics and examples from the museum used.

It was divided into 6 different weekly topics:
Week 1:   Introduction
Week 2:  History and Chronology
Week 3:  The Pharaoh and Kingship
Week 4:  Gods and Goddesses
Week 5:  The Pyramids and the Sphinx
Week 6:  Mummies and Mummification

Each week finished with a (not difficult) quiz to achieve the pass-mark and Week 6 included a very interesting discussion of a 3000+ year-old mummy from their collection. You can follow the generous weekly timetable, or like me, go ahead and finish early.

I was expecting just to revise my knowledge, rather than learn anything new.  However, whilst I did not learn a lot, I enjoyed the process and there a few interesting tib-bits which were new to me.  It just goes to show – it is such a huge subject, there is always more to learn.

So, if you are interested, do have a look.  If it is too late to sign up for this course, it may be possible to register interest for subsequent courses; and, like me, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Posted in University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Art – Charlotte Booth

We at the Egyptian Society Taunton have just enjoyed a really interesting talk given by Charlotte Booth.  With this presentation she took us through many of the clues to ‘reading’ Egyptian art – just as with the words spelled out with the hieroglyphs.

tomb-of-nefertariBeginning with how to tell status, seniority and age of those represented in the tomb paintings and statues, Charlotte then discussed how their bodies and positions are portrayed; interpreting them and explaining the reasons why they are shown thus – some of which were more than a bit strange and uncomfortable looking.

She covered clothing, hair, crowns, professions, foreigners and so much more.

She spoke effortlessly for and hour and we also listen effortlessly.  Well done Charlotte – such an interesting presentation – I would love to know more!

Posted in Charlotte Booth, Egyptian Society Taunton

Museum-fest

Yesterday I enjoyed a real ‘museum-fest’: I went to visit the Sir John Soane Museum and the British Museum in London.

The Soane Museum was as fantastic as ever – not least, the seti-l-big-sarcopfabulous sarcophagus of the 19th dynasty Pharaoh Seti l.  Carved from a single block of alabaster, it is covered with delicately carved texts from the ‘Book of the Gates’ – and is stunningly beautiful.

The museum was Sir John’s private home when in 1833 he negotiated an Act of Parliament: to preserve his house and collection, exactly as it would be at the time of his death – and to keep it open and free for inspiration and education.

It is simply packed with ancient artefacts, books, paintings and architectural drawings.  How he managed to amass so much and live with it as he went about his daily life I cannot imagine, and I find this part of my enchantment with this extraordinary museum – I just love it!

Do visit it, and do expect to be fascinated:
To find out more go to:  http://www.soane.org/

Nextsunken_cities_464-1, onto the British Museum to see ‘Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds’ before the exhibition comes to an end shortly.    The story of how the two cites of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were initially lost was fascinating, as was their rediscovery, and recovery.

And what a magnificent exhibition it is – full of hundreds of wonderful and beautiful artefacts, both large and small.  Again, I loved it!

Do visit this exhibition if you can – you will not be disappointed:
To find out more go to:  http://www.britishmuseum.org/

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

A Pilgramage to Nefertiti – A Long-Time Ambition Achieved

I had always been disappointed never to have visited Berlin – and I addressed this when I travelled there for a holiday this summer.  I was fascinated by the city and what it stands for today, and found it vibrant and ‘alive’ – very ‘multi-culti’ as one German lady told me.

However, the main purpose, and highlight of my visit was Nefertiti!  For so many years I had longed to see ‘in person’ this most beautiful of busts: a bust which in my opinion is possibly the most beautiful ever produced.

Feierliche Wiederöffnung des Neuen Museums in BerlinTherefore, she was top of my list of things to see in Berlin.  My heart was racing, my stomach twisting, and I was more excited than I could believe as I made my way to the Neues Museum, situated on Museum Island.

worshippimgAnd I was not disappointed – she really is a masterpiece, and so very elegant and beautiful!  She is there, in splendid isolation in her glass display case in the centre of the room.  There were many others there to see her, yet the room was quiet and hushed – it felt almost reverential (or is that too fanciful?)  But I like to think the other visitors were as much in awe of what they were seeing as I was.

I spent a long time studying her, thinking about the mystery surrounding her life in ancient Egypt: a life which during the 3000 years of empire was such a brief period, but a period of turmoil, disruption and chaos.  And yet, she looks so tranquil, calm and serene. A fascinating contradiction.
I looked at her too with more critical eyes – trying to see evidence of the bust being a fake as some like to claim.  I was not able to tell, but then, I so wanted to believe she is genuine.

I tarried far too long – as long as I dared, hurriedly looked at the rest of the Egyptian section, hastened through other galleries, enjoyed a delicious German cheesecake (as good as I remembered) and went back to the hotel having had a truly enjoyable and rewarding visit to the museum.  This was the achievement of a long-held ambition – a tick off the ‘Bucket List’ – and I was very satisfied with my devoutedly undertaken pilgrimage to pay homage to this gorgeous ancient icon!

Posted in Museums and Visits

Adorned by Egypt – Egypt in Arts and Crafts – Chris Elliott

Chris Elliot, of Egypt in England began his comprehensive lecture with Egyptian themes in Roman mosaics & frescoes and carried on with a general tour of influences on our own Arts and Crafts movement.

Further afield, Piranesi decorated the English Coffee House near the Spanish Steps in Rome in Egyptian style, and Pattern Books emerged of Egyptian & Assyrian styled Chimney breasts, doorways etc. for grand houses.  Sir John Soane’s Museum, London was full of antiquities, including the fabulous sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti l.  Sevres produced an Egyptian Service: one set for Tsar Alexander l, the other for the Empress Josephine, which passed to Louis XVIII and is now in the Wellington collection in Apsley House, London.

Victorian paintings depicted scenes from Egyptian history, and furniture, fabrics, carpets & Wedgwood ceramics were Egyptianised.  And after the famous find in 1922 ‘Tut-mania’ saw mass-production of all things Egyptological – good & bad.

Chris made a ‘timely’ end – with a Bradford Exchange advert for an Egyptian-themed “Cuckoo” clock!

Thanks again Chris – entertaining, as always

Posted in Egypt in England, Egyptian Society Taunton, Sir John Soane Museum