Temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb

My ARCHAEO-Crush for April is…

TEMPLE OF AMENHOTEP III AT SOLEB
Type: monument (jubilee temple)
Civilisation: ancient Egypt
Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III, circa 1386-1349 BCE
ARCHAEO-Crush: The temple at Soleb, built in Sudan by the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III, is probably my favourite Nubian monument. (During the New Kingdom the Egyptians had colonised Sudanese Nubia.) I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for Amenhotep III, but the reason of my ARCHAEO-Crush is much more visceral than that. The temple at Soleb is in fact the first Egyptian temple I ever visited, even though I had visited Egypt 18 years prior. I have a very vivid souvenir of seeing this temple for the very first time, on the trip from Khartoum to Sedeinga. I was on the lorry that crossed the Bayuda Desert and travelled further north to remote towns and villages. It’s a long trip and a fun story that I hope one day to include in the Day in the Life of an Archaeologist chronicle. As I was saying, I was on the lorry, sharing the front seat with the driver and another gentleman, when I saw magnificent ruins in the distance. I knew immediately it was the temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb—its profile is unmistakable. The other passenger, with whom I had been chatting in horrible Arabic (me, at the time I knew about a dozen words!!!) and slightly better English (him), pointed to the ruins and asked me if that’s where I was going to work. No, not there. There are too many columns at this temple. The temple at Sedeinga has only one column still standing. This is Soleb. The temple of Amenhotep at Soleb…

During the dig season, when the Sedeinga dig director offered me to visit Soleb in the company of Hourig Sourouzian, visiting Egyptologist and expert Amenhotep III, I immediately said yes. I had a fabulous day exploring the site with Hourig and two other archaeologists. We also helped her search for fragments of statues of Amenhotep in the old storerooms of the Schiff-Giorgini mission. It was amazing to have the site entirely to ourselves… something you’ll not experience at Luxor or Karnak where you’ll be surrounded by tons of tourists.

The site of Soleb is amazing and one of the most impressive in Sudan: several columns are still standing and two of them actually still hold up an architrave! I could talk about this temple and many others until your ears fall off (I wrote my thesis on Amun temples in Nubia and this temple was included in my corpus). So, instead, I’m leaving you with a few pictures I took of this incredible temple during my one and only visit to Soleb.
Bucket list status: Been there, done that… and would love to do it again!
Additional info: The site of Soleb and its temple are not on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Canada’s favourite ‘mummy hunter’ returns

Here is a lovely article in the St. Catharines Standard about my colleague and friend Gayle Gibson, Egyptologist and teacher extraordinaire, recently retired from the Royal Ontario Museum.  Follow the link to read the article: Canada’s favourite mummy hunter returns | St. Catharines Standard.

Gayle, this one is for you! Thanks for your support and friendship over the years.  Keep up the good work… even in retirement!  (Do Egyptologists ever really retire?)

Celebration!

Yes, this was the Kool and the Gang song we used in our dance video, but it was also the atmosphere at the museum today (at least amongst those who had participated in the project): we made it to Round 2 of the competition! Near the end, it was a very tight race with the First Division Museum in Wheaton, IL. The semi-finals should be next week and I’ll let you know of the date to vote for us again.

Thanks to all who voted for us in our moment of museum silliness.

Museum Dance Off 2

When you work at a museum you sometimes do strange things like… participate in a dance video competition hosted by WhenYouWorkAtAMuseum.com. Twenty-eight museums have entered the competition, including the NCMA. (The other museums are from Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and even Mongolia!)  Watch the trailer.

The reason I am mentioning this competition is that I’m actually in the video!!! (Not surprisingly, the staff members who participated are normally the ones who hit the dance floor at the Museum Christmas party!) We had great fun filming and the resulting video is quite amusing (if I may say so myself). You’ll see me lead a tour around the galleries, having fun and dancing… although we’re just grooving to Kool and the Gang. Don’t expect any ballroom dancing moves on my part… not this time! (For those who don’t know, ballroom dancing is one of my hobbies.)  You can view the video below:

 NCMA Museum Dance Off 2 Video

I hope you’ll vote for us!  Voting starts on Monday April 20 and for this first round you will be able to vote for our video on, and only on, April 22, starting at 8am EDT (UTC-04:00). We’re competing against another American museum, a Canadian museum and an Australian heritage complex. To cast your vote, all you have to do is go to whenyourworkatamuseum.com.

Thank you in advance for your encouragement and your vote!

 

Gardens in ancient Egypt

This weekend was the Weinberg Lecture of Egyptology, held at the Museum once a year. Around 180 people came out on this lovely North Carolina spring Sunday (that would be the equivalent of a lovely Québec summer day) to hear Danish Egyptologist Dr. Lise Manniche speak about gardens in ancient Egypt.

Dr. Lise Manniche visiting the Egyptian galleries at the NCMA.

Dr. Lise Manniche visiting the Egyptian galleries at the NCMA.

It was a great lecture with fabulous illustrations found on temple or tomb walls of what Egyptians planted in their gardens.  The lecture played very well with the theme of my Egyptology seminar and the recent Art in Bloom event.  Evidently, Lise likes flowers and plants very much so today I took her to the Raulston Arboretum near the NCMA and we also walked the trails in the Museum Park. It was a glorious day, being outside was wonderful.

It was great fun spending a weekend with a fellow Egyptologist…

Turin’s revamped Egyptian Museum

On April 1, the Egyptian Museum in Turin revealed its revamped galleries after 5 years of partial closure. Its gallery spaces have doubled and the collection is now presented in state-of-the-art displays. You can read about the new installation here, here and here. Each of the articles has different images.

Now, I suppose I will have to drop by on my next visit to Italy and take new photos!  You may recall that I included a page dedicated to the Museo Egizio (Turin) in the Photo Diary almost a year ago.

Egyptology Seminar 2015

I was rather quiet this week as I decided to stay away from my computer and rest after spending an entire month working on my Egyptology seminar. And by an entire month, I mean working every weekday—often late in the evening—and every weekend. When I work on PowerPoint presentations, I need to devote good chunks of time to them, not just a few minutes here and there, in between meetings and other little tasks. This means working when there are fewer colleagues around and/or not even signing into one’s email account (which normally results in receiving phone calls from colleagues when you don’t respond to urgent messages).

The theme of this year’s seminar was daily life in ancient Egypt as depicted on tomb walls from the Old Kingdom to the early New Kingdom (Eighteenth Dynasty until the reign of Amenhotep III, after which decorative schemes change significantly). There is more than meets the eye on those decorated tomb walls! I prepared four different lectures focusing on this theme, starting with the construction of a tomb. (Can’t decorate a tomb if you don’t have a tomb!) We looked at what goes on at a nobleman’s estate, family life and personal affairs, and the relationship between the Egyptians and their environment, specifically related to fauna. (The Egyptians were very keen observers of nature and this is illustrated in their tombs.) I did not explore Egypt’s flora as this will be the topic of the Weinberg Lecture of Egyptology next week.

The day-long seminar included an Egypt-inspired lunch and a baklava reception, where a lovely tea and hibiscus syrup concoction was also served. There even was a flower at the bottom of the cup! Quite delicious! I believe it was the signature drink for the Art in Bloom event mentioned in previous posts.

I went home rather tired at the end of the day; however, I was happy that the participants really enjoyed themselves and want to do it again next year… with a different theme, of course! Now, I’m taking advantage of the long Easter weekend to charge my batteries…