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Edition - April, 2012
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By Kate Phizackerley
We aim to bring you a new edition of the Magazine every two or three months but Edition 5 is published less than 6 weeks after Edition 4 as Egyptological goes from strength to strength. Headlining this edition, experienced writer Barbara O’Neill demonstrates a new talent as a journalist. Her interview of Dr Joyce Tyldesley […]
In February 2012, Dr. Joyce Tyldesley announced the latest in the University’s impressive portfolio of online courses. The Diploma in Egyptology is set to receive its first intake of students in October; some (not all) will be tech-savvy graduates of previous Tyldesley-designed distance Egyptology. Recently, this busy academic took some time out to discuss Manchester’s pioneering online Egyptology programmes
A series of articles like this, or a book, lecture or Egyptology course, could be focused on Egyptian art, architecture, history, culture, politics, sociology, medicine or virtually anything, and still be about Egyptian religion. Conversely, this series on religion is likewise about everything else. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and in ancient Egypt, the tree is religion. In this installment, we will follow the deceased king into his his eternal home, the “Mansion of Millions of Years,” and begin to explore the meanings there — the ideas expressed in architecture. In Part 6, we will continue with a look at the grave goods, art and words that perpetuate life in the world beyond. The immediate purpose is to see the correspondences between Old Kingdom and New Kingdom tombs as they reflect religious ideology.
By Brian Alm
Rising 300m above the desert floor, and covering an area the size of Switzerland, the Gilf Kebir is one of the most arid and inhospitable places in the Sahara. Located in the Egyptian desert, near the Libyan border a 100km north of Sudan, it shares a latitude with Abu Simbel. For over 100,000 years the Gilf Kebir was home to generations of hunters, followed by two thousand years of use by nomadic herders. It was only re-discovered in 1926, and since then it has been the subject of numerous expeditions for exploration, archaeological and geological investigation and, more recently, tourism. Very remote and arid it remained an almost pristine landscape until recent decades, perfect for field research. Even NASA researchers have studied the Gilf Kebir to evaluate conditions that might prevail on Mars.
As we saw in Part 1, in spite of his lack of a formal education Arthur Weigall pursued the role of archaeological excavator, achieving his dream of working in Egypt. Although his initial achievements were minimal, he was promoted to the position of an Inspector in Egypt, a role he took on with energy and dedication. He was fiercely protective of monuments from Luxor to Nubia, often falling into dispute with the authorities and wealthy patrons over the importance of preservation through proper archaeological technique.
By Garry Beuk
Williams reviews Egyptian Myth – A Very Short Introduction by Geraldin Pinch. Pinch has a formidable task. In 125 pages, Pinch outlines the framework within which Egyptian myths are contextualised before outlining the mythology itself. Such a brief book could have been facile but instead Williams is impressed by Pinch’s achievement. He explains why.
A recent exhibition on East African headrests indicates that their use represents different levels of symbolic meaning, from marking the significant transition from youth to adulthood, to the more practical function of protecting elaborate hairstyles during sleep; still a factor in the use of headrests in some African tribes today (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; ‘Triumph, protection and dreams: The East African headrest in context’). Headrests have an iconographical status throughout the African continent and are a recognisable feature of ancient Egyptian culture. The act of sleeping itself is the subject of myth, ritual and superstition interwoven within the religion which permeated all aspects of this complex civilization. Headrests, sleep and dreams are interrelated within Egyptian ideology. Was the Egyptian headrest a purely symbolic object; a funerary essential; an everyday domestic object or an item which fits all of those descriptions? In the following article I will explore aspects of sleep in ancient Egypt, from the headrests used in the act of sleeping, to complex meaning surrounding dreams.
It is not within the scope of this short article to review the entire two-volume edited collection of papers in A Companion to Ancient Egypt edited by Alan B. Lloyd, particularly as I have only read around 45% of the papers published within it. On the other hand, I have been using the two volumes quite extensively recently and thought that it might be useful to any readers who are considering splashing out the eye-watering sum for this encyclopaedic work if I offered some thoughts on the subject as a whole, rather than looking at individual articles. I have read at least one article in every section.
Kate Phizackerley introduces womens’ experience of child birth in Ancient Egypt and the special birth bowers assigned to this important event. She traces how this involved into a special type of chapel, called a mammis and considers what implications might be drawn from one scene depicting Akhenaten and his queen, Nefertiti. Along the way she covers who might attend a birth and touches on some of the medical texts.