Death of the Nile

BBC News Africa article by Peter Schwartzstein, published 10 October 2017.
The world’s longest river is sick—and getting sicker…

Read the full article by clicking on the photo or this link: http://bbc.in/2g9vWUE

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Jabba the Toad

On Thursday, I was invited to give a lecture on ancient Nubia at Appalachian State University.  When I talked about life on the dig at Dangeil, I mentioned Jabba the Toad and his other amphibian friends who live in our shower room. Jabba is a really big toad, but the others are smaller and hang out by the water drain. They sit there, covered in suds, staring at us with their big googly eyes while we’re showering. Jabba turned out to be of great interest to a young, budding archaeologist who attended the lecture.

Here’s Jabba the Toad… as seen on the Dangeil Twitter feed (where I got the photo for my presentation).

The CIPEG Journal

One of the many projects that have occupied my evenings and weekends these last several months is the CIPEG Journal: Egyptian & Sudanese Collections and Museums. After a slow start last fall, the editorial committee, of which I am in charge, has been working very hard on the first issue of the journal.  My tasks were included corresponding with authors, liaising with the reviewers, reviewing articles as well as designer the journal (cover and article template), formatting the contributions and designing the website that would host our open access journal (the latter in collaboration with the Universitätsbibliothek, Heidelberg).

At the General Assembly held during the Annual Meeting, which took place in Chicago a few weeks ago, we announced the publication of the first volume of the CIPEG Journal. We launched with five articles and we have five more currently in the works that will be added as soon as they are ready. Contributions to the journal are papers that were presented at last year’s annual meeting–either on the theme of the conference or research undertaken by curators of ancient Egyptian and Sudanese collections (and other non-museum scholars who also work with these collections). I was delighted that we managed to launch in time for the meeting.

You can now understand why I have been so busy. In fact, I have been juggling between three to seven projects at a time since November… and that does not include my projects and my daily activities at work. Phew !

Mycenaean terracotta figurines

Just a few days after the study of the Roman mosaic, another consultant dropped by the NCMA to look some early Greek material. Bryan Burns’ visit was very short–a few hours–because we only have three Mycenaean figurines.  They are small, but they are adorable! Not only that, the figurines are some of the oldest artefacts in the Graeco-Roman collection (they date to circa 1400-1150 B.C.E., way before Classical Greece.)

Tile after tile

There was a flurry of activity related to the research on the classical collection during last week of August.  Normally, the objects under observation are removed from the galleries so that we can study them in either the conservation lab (Corey) or the Scholars Room (the visiting consultant and I).  However, it was the Roman mosaic that was the subject of the study session… and it could not be moved! So mosaic specialist Debra Foran, objects conservator Corey Riley and I worked in the galleries.

The study took place on Monday because the museum is closed to the public.  We could work quietly and also study every single little tessera (tile) that makes up the lovely floral and geometric design of the mosaic. We all felt a little weird kneeling or sitting on blankets on the edge of the mosaic so that we could look at the middle of it closely! Tiles were counted, no loose ones were found, we looked at the colour of the glass and stone tesserae with the Munsell chart… every little detail was studied.

 

The Battle of Actium

Did you know that 2,048 years ago one of the most important naval battles of history took place near Actium, on the western coast of Greece? On 2 September 31 B.C., the forces of Octavian (future Emperor Augustus) opposed those of the famous Cleopatra and Mark Antony.  The battle itself is indecisive, but Octavian gained the upper hand when Cleopatra fled with her Egyptian galleys and Mark Antony managed to follow her. A few days later, their ground troupes surrendered and the victory went to Octavian. The Battle of Actium changed the face of the Mediterranean in Antiquity.  Not only did it put an end to the civil war of the Roman Republic, it gave birth to the Roman Empire, with Octavian becoming its first emperor.

In the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art there is a gilded tempera painting on panel that depicts this very important naval battle important. The painting was created in 1475-80 by Italian artist Neroccio De’ Landi and his workshop.