Julius Caesar and the Leap Year

Did you know that Julius Caesar is generally acknowledged as the father of the leap year? Back in the day, the Roman calendar only had 355 days (!) and was evidently shorter than the solar year (the time it takes for the Earth to orbit around the sun—365 ¼ days). In order to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons, the Romans would add a month here and there (what a mess!)… until Caesar became dictator and sorted things out by consulting with astronomers in 46 BC. It was decided that a day should be added to the calendar every 4 years to make up for the discrepancy between the lunar and solar calendars. The Leap Year came into effect in 45 BC.

Julius also took the opportunity to rename one of the months in the calendar. He picked Quintilis, the fifth month of the year (which started in March back in those days, not January) and renamed it after himself… a month we all know today as July.

I have simplified things a bit, but that’s the upshot of it all!

Egyptian Action Figures?!

Staff members have been helping out during our very, very busy fall exhibitions by taking guard duty in the permanent galleries. A number of colleagues have dropped by my office to share visitor comments regarding the Egyptian galleries (always good comments and fun stories). This morning, Laura F dropped by and made my day with her anecdote. When she was on duty in the Egyptian gallery, a small boy of about 9 zoomed passed her straight to the vitrine with our two statuettes of Isis and Horus and one of Osiris with great excitement. “Egyptian action figures!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.
(Laura’s rendering of story also made it very funny.)

I howled with laughter! It made my day!

A rather poor photograph taken by yours truly this morning of the so-called 'Egyptian Action Figures.' (The Museum is not open to the public on Mondays, so the galleries are not lit... hence the poor photograph.)

A rather poor photograph taken by yours truly this morning of the so-called ‘Egyptian Action Figures.’ (The Museum is not open to the public on Mondays, so the galleries are not lit… hence the poor photograph.)

Playing Memory during Thanksgiving

During holidays like (American) Thanksgiving and Christmas, I bring out my archaeological/Egyptological Memory game, which I set up on the coffee table in the living room. When I walk by (while otherwise puttering around the house), I try to find matching pairs of artefacts or galleries of the Neues Museum in Berlin.

memorygame

A memory game fit for archaeologists and Egyptologists, given to me by my good friend Dana (who happens to be an Egyptologist herself).

When 5pm rolled around, I was officially off for the long Thanksgiving weekend and the game came out.  I have already found four out of thirty-six pairs. (Still looking for Nefertiti.) Even though I do have some activities planned this weekend, I’m pretty sure I’ll find them all by Sunday evening!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.

 

Musing about film canisters

When I did laundry earlier this week, the ribbon from my pyjama bottom came out of the waistband. As I threaded it back on, using a safety pin, I mused about the little container I use to store all my safety pins: a photo film canister.

obsoleteDigital cameras having replaced the film ones, the little canister is now an obsolete object, a rare thing. Strangely enough, film canisters were rather useful archaeological digs back in the day. Team members would “collect” them during the year and bring them on the dig each season. We had tons! What were the film canisters used for, you ask? Well, they came in really handy to store the small tiny objects like beads and amulets, which were carefully placed inside with a label and cotton batting so they wouldn’t rattle around. Nowadays, small objects get placed in mini Ziploc bags, but they aren’t quite as protected as in the film canisters. Small objects now need to be placed in baskets separately from the big artefacts because the latter can crush the small items. In this day and age, there are probably very young archaeologists who have never used a film canister on a dig…. Heck, maybe some of them have never used film cameras!

Fan mail for Fefi!

While he was on ‘vacation’ (and his ghost writer at conferences abroad–more on that later),  Fefi, the NCMA’s most noble and ancient blogger, received fan mail. An avid reader enquired about Fefi’s well-being and made voice offerings of bread and beer so that our favourite ancient scribe would have the energy to continue his hieroglyphic blog posts. (Seriously! I’m not kidding… the Museum received an email for Fefi and it was a brilliant missive. I loved it!)

A post–written by yours truly and made available a couple of days ago–adds to Fefi’s lessons on Egyptian hieroglyphs. You can read What’s in a Nickname? on Circa. It should keep you (and our avid reader) satisfied until Fefi resumes his blogging activities!

Medjed: Big in Japan

Today, as I read the Egyptologists’ Electronic Forum (EEF) News, an odd little thing caught my eye and had me howling with laughter at work. (Luckily the others who have an office near mine were all on vacation…)  There was a link to an article about a rather obscure Egyptian deity called Medjed and the reaction of the Japanese public when they saw this rather peculiar god back in 2012 in an exhibition of Egyptian art from the British Museum… and how it developed over the last few years.

I have to agree with the Japanese, though, Medjed is absolutely adorable.  Imagine an ancient Egyptian wearing a ghost costume for Halloween. That’s what Medjed looks like. You don’t believe me? Check out the article: The Obscure Egyptian God and His Bizarre Afterlife on the Japanese Internet. Like I said, hysterically funny! Only in Japan, I tell you. Only in Japan. Sayonara!