Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds

Today opens at the British Museum a new and very interesting exhibition: Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds.

Sunken below the waters of the Mediterranean for over 1000 years, the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus as well as their recently recovered underwater treasures are the subject of this blockbuster exhibition.  Not to be missed if you’re in London between 19 May and 27 November.

BM-sunkentreasures

So little time, so little Egyptology…

A new post has appeared on La Vida Aegyptiaca, my blog on the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (SSEA).  I have done very little Egyptology these last few months because, since January, I’m working on an exhibition that opens this October 1. (Yep, just 10 months to complete project that would normally be given 2 years.)  Take a look at my post using the link above… and keep in mind the image below.  That’s what I’ve been working on… there’s been so little Egyptology in my life since the New Year.  I take where I can…

DSCN4625

1936 Stout Scarab (detail)

 

The future of gallery teaching

This morning, I was in the NCMA’s Egyptian galleries teaching a class of students at Havelock High School (which is about 2 and half hours east of Raleigh)… using our very nifty SECU mobile distance learning cart.  The class had already 3D-printed a replica of the Amulet of Isis and Horus (which we scanned back in February) but they could see the original in the vitrine next to me as I talked about it.

We also chatted about Nehebkau (another amulet) and one of the school groups visiting the galleries with their art teacher stopped to listen to me… and then photobombed the lesson when they realised I was actually talking to other high school kids. It was hilarious… everyone was waving at each other… and Emily and I were laughing. Yes, ancient Egypt is that fun!

Thanks, Emily, for taking the pictures and manning the cart!

Experiential Mummification #1

Very cool post about experimental mummification… Thanks, Campbell, for sharing!

Animal Mummy Lab

As part of our research for The Leverhulme Trust, the BioBank Team have mummified several bird cadavers using experiential methods seen in the ancient mummies (Fig. 1) (kindly provided by the Natural History Museum Bird group, Tring and productive household pet hunting activity). The use of simple observation and clinical imaging were used to monitor smell, weight loss and temperature/humidity, level of desiccation and preservation, and difficulty in the mummification technique; all of which particularly relate to EM1 and EM10.

Experimental Mummies Figure 1: Wrapped Experimental Animal Mummies

Our experiences with clinical imaging have shown that they can be limited when it comes to collating zooarchaeological data (species identification, Minimum Number of Individuals, age and sex) from animal mummies that contain something other than a single, complete individual. To assess this difficulty, the NHM, Tring donated 6 bags of bird remains for mummification; the caveat being that they did not tell us how many or what species were present…

View original post 599 more words

S.O.S. SSEA and La Vida Aegyptiaca

Readers who have been following An Archaeologist’s Diary since its move to WordPress will know that I also blog for Canada’ Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (SSEA).  Some of these posts have been referred to on An Archaeologist’s Diary, click here to read them.

The revamping of the SSEA website back in 2006 meant that new things interesting to both Egyptophiles and Egyptologists could be featured online. I started my blog La Vida Aegyptiaca  after being asked by the then-President to share my Egyptological adventures and my professional or academic work with the SSEA members and the public at large. (This came out of my ‘Adventures of Caroline in Carolina’ emails I used to send family and friends after I moved to North Carolina. Clearly somebody was getting a kick out of those emails!)

Can you believe it’s been almost 10 years since the SSEA revamped its website and La Vida Aegyptiaca launched? That’s almost as old as the pyramids!  Okay, maybe not that old… but old enough for www.thessea.org/ to now experience technical difficulties. That is why the SSEA just launched an initiative to fund a brand new website, where La Vida Aegyptiaca will continue to reside along other cool things. I encourage all my readers, friends and family to help the SSEA with its endeavour by contributing to the website’s GoFundMe campaign.  I just contributed myself… I hope you will do the same!  

If we can save Nubian temples from the waters of Lake Nasser, we can do anything--including raising funds for a new SSEA website!

If we can save Nubian temples from the waters of Lake Nasser, we can do anything–including raising funds for a new SSEA website! Thank you in advance for your generous contribution. Please share with Egyptophiles around the world!

Remember September

I have been neglecting my blogging duties… mostly because life and volunteering got in the way. Although I did post two short bits of news since telling you about my trip to Italy, I now need to go back to the week after the Florence conference—the first week of September.

Instead of going back home, I flew up to Munich, Germany… for another conference! The CIPEG annual meeting was much smaller, which was quite pleasant, and consisted of a single session of presentations each day (as has always been the case since I started attending). There was no need to run from one room to the other, coffee and tea were offered right there in the small conference hall… and we had the cutest cookies in world on which to munch! Egyptological cookies… take a look!

I was very excited about this conference because of this year’s theme “From Historicism to the Multimedia Age: Content, Concept and Design of Egyptian Museums and Collections.” Having been doing mostly classical art research since 2012 and with my Egyptological projects have already been presented or not advanced enough to present, I have very little to share at Egyptological conferences these days. This topic, however, allowed me to present a paper at the conference, focusing the NCMA’s Egyptian galleries, which I designed for the new permanent collection building that opened 5 years ago. My presentation went really well (so I gathered by the many great comments I received) and I was very pleased.

A friend snapped a shot during my presentation (as I'm talking about the NCMA campus and its new building)

A friend snapped a shot during my presentation (as I’m talking about the NCMA campus and its new building).

What was nice about this meeting was the fact that it was held at the Egyptian Museum in Munich (Staatliche Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, the state museum of Egyptian art). The new building opened a couple of years ago and I had heard nothing but great things about it. I was looking forward to an opportunity to visit… and this conference was it. Wow! I had seen the Munich collection a few years ago at a different location, but that old building didn’t do it justice. This new building is entirely underground (but with natural light coming in) and quite stunning in its minimalist and modernist way… and it presents the collection like never before! I’ll present it on An Archaeologist’s Diary when I have time to put together a photo page. It’ll be worth the wait!

Now that I’m all caught up with the scholarly activities that have taken place abroad in late summer, we can go back to the future… I mean to the present!

Has Nefertiti’s tomb been discovered?

Over the last few days, I have been bombarded with questions regarding the “discovery” of Nefertiti’s tomb.  People are asking me if it’s true, has Nefertiti’s tomb been discovered? (There are several articles online…)

So what do I think? Well, first off, nothing was discovered.  My colleague, Nick Reeves, believes that he has detected fissures in the painted walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb that may be indicative of entrances to previously unnoticed chambers. His hypothesis is based on the study of photographs and scans made of Tutankhamun’s tomb in order to create a facsimile of it.

That being said, the (obvious) next step is to verify whether these chambers actually exist. (Reeves himself has stated that his hypothesis needs to be verified in the field.)  Considering that these supposed chambers are located behind the only two painted plaster walls of Tutankhamun’ tomb, this necessitates much cogitation and the approval of the Minister for Antiquities of Egypt.  A geophysical survey is probably the way to go in determining if the rooms do exist. Geologists have all sorts of ground penetrating radars, magnetometers, etc… that could help.

If they do exist, only archaeological excavation will tell us if we are in fact dealing with the tomb of Nefertiti–and that’s going to be problematic to say the least. Let’s not forget that these supposed rooms are extensions of Tutankhamun’s tomb; one needs to find a way to enter said chambers without destroying the most well-known royal tomb in Egypt. However, like many colleagues, I think it is premature to put forth the identity of the owner of these chambers. Several Egyptologists have commented on the ‘discovery’ and many doubt that the previously unknown rooms could actually belong to the famous queen. (Read here and here and here, for example.)

So. Has Nefertiti’s tomb been discovered? My answer is no.  It is much to early to confirm anything about anything at this point.  Let’s just wait and see what happens… but many of us actually doubt the chambers even exist because they wouldn’t fit in the traditional architectural plan of tombs of this period.