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AWT Conference 2011 Review: House and Home at el-Amarna by Kate Spence

Review by Andrea Byrnes.  Published on Egyptological, Magazine Reviews, 29th September 2011. AWT Conference 2011.  House and Home at el-Amarna: some thoughts on domestic architecture by Dr Kate Spence   Introduction Dr Kate Spence of the University of Cambridge introduced the audience to an area of the city of Amarna which formed an equivalent of […] [more…]

AWT Conference 2011 Review: Christianity on the Edge by Gillian Pyke

Review by Andrea Byrnes and Kate Phizackerley.  Published on Egyptological, Magazine Reviews, 29th September 2011.   AWT Conference 2011 – Christianity on the Edge:  The North Tombs Settlement at Amarna. By Gillian Pyke.   Introduction Gillian Pyke was the only speaker at the 2011AWT Conference to discuss aspects of Amarna which date to outside the […] [more…]

Figure 1. Fig. 1. Vertical cross section of the Great Pyramid of Giza showing the main passages and chambers. The rectangle insert shows the region of Fig. 2. The red arrow points to the granite plugs at the bottom of the Ascending Passage. (modified from Piazzi Smyth, Life and Work at the Great Pyramid, Vol.1, Plate 3, 1866).

The Granite Plugs of the Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid on the Giza plateau at the apex of the Nile delta is one of the oldest and largest and yet perhaps the most enigmatic manmade structure in recorded history. Egyptologists have determined that it was commissioned by the pharaoh Khufu in the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom to be his royal tomb. Figure 1 shows a vertical cross section indicating the main passages and chambers. However, within these passages and chambers are many elements of construction that are difficult to explain within the context of a royal tomb. This article focuses on one such enigma: the set of three massive granite blocks that plug the lower end of the Ascending Passage. [more…]

Some of the Conference Audience Relaxing

AWT Conference 2011 (Amarna) – Overview

The 2011 Ancient World Tours Conference was held at UCL, London over the weekend of 3rd and 4th September and focused on Amarna. The authors attended and offer this overview of the conference. Over the next ten days or so, we shall also be publishing detailed reviews of about half of the sessions in the Magazine section of Egyptological (and will formally become part of the next edition).  [more…]

Figure 14. bHn dog beneath chair. Tomb of Nebamun. Photgraph by P. Gorgori

Eternal Companions – The Creatures Who Could Speak to God

Animals were a ritually charged symbol of life, lavishly represented in Egypt’s literature, arts, and crafts. They were believed to be creatures of the gods with the ability to communicate directly with a range of deities. Indeed, animal vocalisation was perceived as a secret language understood by the gods. The prominence of animals within Egyptian elite culture however, did not result in the animal loving traditions which exist today. Animal necropolises throughout Egypt bear witness to the fact that many creatures, including those we now value as domestic pets, were routinely strangled mummified and presented as votive offerings to gods with which the animals were associated. [more…]

Figure 4. Scarab

Ancient Egyptian Religion, Part 2 – Concepts of Creation, God, and Eternity

In Part 1 of this series I presented three guiding ideas of Egyptian religion: order (maat), duality (polarity, balance), and magic (heka). In this part I speculate briefly on how it all began and then we will see how the ancient Egyptians explained cosmogony (the creation of the universe) and deified the principles of Creation and order on Earth. [more…]

Libyan Desert Glass and the Breast Ornament of Tutankhamen

One of the many fabulous items in the jewellery collection from the tomb of Tutankhamen is a breast ornament. A highly decorative piece in the form of a winged scarab, dating to around 1330 BCE, it is currently on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (JE 61884; Burton Photo No. P1133; Carter No. 267d). Adorned with silver, semi-precious stones and glass paste, all set into gold, the eye-catching centrepiece is a semi-translucent green scarab. Remarkable for its beauty, the pectoral has the added interest of scientific and archaeological mysteries that have yet to be completely unraveled. [more…]

Figure 6.  Hauling the bust towards the NIle

In Defense of Belzoni

The early explorers of Egypt, often associated with ideas of adventure, discovery and buried treasure, fascinate many people interested in the earliest days of Egyptology. No name elicits a stronger, and often negative reaction from scholars than that of Giovanni Belzoni, who explored Egypt in the early 1800s. Belzoni has often been depicted as a villain, an irresponsible treasure hunter who destroyed valuable antiquities as he blazed through Egypt in a search for gold. It is this image of Belzoni that forms many people’s preconceptions. [more…]

Book Review: The Lost Tombs of Saqqara

Consisting of eight chapters, the main attraction of The Lost Tombs of Saqqara is the exceptional beauty of the photographs. For those unfamiliar with the site, Saqqara is a vast, sprawling necropolis to the south of Cairo. It was used from the Early Dynastic period onwards for royal and elite burials, and is best known for the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt’s earliest pyramid, and its other Old Kingdom pyramids and beautifully decorated mastaba tombs. This book takes the reader into the New Kingdom area of Saqqara. [more…]

AWT Conference 2011 – Excavating in the Valley of the Kings (Stephen Cross)

As described in the overview of the 2011 AWT Conference co-authored with Andrea Byrnes, the closing keynote lecture was delivered by Stephen Cross. His lecture created a buzz in the room and that has continued since Andrea Byrnes and I first posted about it on our respective blogs. In this account of his lecture, I shall present the theory as described by Cross: this is intended as reportage not as as detailed critique, although obviously a certain level of commentary is included. [more…]