Edition - April, 2014
Call me a curmudgeon if you will, but I prefer “purist.” Purists are expected to rant occasionally, but often there is vindication for that, grounded in practicality. I am speaking of the mess the Greeks made of Egyptian words — names, especially — that has carried on down to the present day, perpetuated (unfortunately) by some of the best Egyptologists in the business, and by now no doubt irreversible. Purists can be frustrated — short of madness, although perhaps not by a wide margin — by such irritations and the futility of their remedial efforts, and I suppose others may as well just let those of us so inclined simply grimace and grind our teeth.
By Brian Alm
Janet Robinson’s project Vernacular Voices is about ancient people living, travelling and most importantly communicating in writing in the Egyptian desert. Vernacular Voices I, published on Egyptological in May 2012 (http://egyptological.com/2012/05/31/vernacular-voices-8902), introduced a Romano-Egyptian called Phopis resting in a shady spot at Hans Winkler’s site RME21 (Robert Mond Expedition) in Wadi Qash. Vernacular Voices II discusses some hitherto unpublished graffiti signatures set in full sun at the celebrated ‘lost’ Hans Winkler rock-shelter RME18 which is also in Wadi Qash near the Roman garrisons of Krokodilo and Didymoi.
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.
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.