Women in Science

Today, I participated in the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation’s Women in Science spring conference, which was held at the Museum.  The GSK Foundation funds and mentors female students enrolled in science programmes in North Carolina.  I gave a tour entitled ‘Ancient Art, New Science: When Curatorial Research Meets Materials Analysis,’ which  was a special tour of the ancient art galleries that focused on the scientific analyses we have been conducting over the last few months.

I was delighted to be asked and I said yes immediately because I feel I owe so much to GSK: I started out at the museum practically 10 years ago as GlaxoSmithKline Curatorial Fellow and GSK later funded position and my research on the Egyptian collection as well as the publication of the catalogue. GSK’s support of the Museum’s curatorial research (conducted by fellows who are ABD doctoral students or recent PhDs) over the years has been tremendous. I’m beyond grateful to GSK…

My tour included Bacchus, which was brought from the conservation lab for this special occasion, Hercules, the Celestial god or hero and the Egyptian Head of a deity.  As you can imagine, I talked about UVF, VIL, IRR, pXRF, marble sampling and thermoluminescence. The participants seem to have greatly enjoyed the visit because I got many interested questions, enthusiastic comments and requests for my business card. A few hours of my time was the least I could do for a foundation that’s been so generous to me and the Museum. It was a fun and enriching day…

May the False Door be with You

I have just posted my most recent adventures to my (other) blog, La Vida Aegyptiaca.  You find there a description of my trip to Italy in the second half of July (especially my activities in Rome, Naples and Florence), but I did want to show you some pictures and share some anecdotes of my time in Montepulciano, working with my colleague Egyptologist Francesco Tiradritti. Francesco and I are writing an article concerning two false doors (the first in the Egyptian collection in Raleigh, the other in a private collection in Rome), each belonging to men from the same family involved with the funerary cult of King Pepy I.

Last year, Francesco came to look at our false door and give the Weinberg Lecture. We started planning the article, but I still had to see the false door in Rome. After lots of scheduling problems we managed to find time when we were both available and that’s how I spent a week in Montepulciano with the Tiradrittis (I was actually staying at a lovely farm house, but spending the day with them). Working with Francesco is always great fun (we laugh a lot), but this trip was beyond hysterically funny. His adorable young son is obsessed with Star Wars and our writing of the article was done to the Imperial March and the Star Wars theme (sung by Leonida, of course) and the sounds of ‘pistolina’ firing at enemies and battle droids accepting orders.

On rainy days (there were quite a few), I worked with Francesco in his library and we listened to the Star Wars soundtrack (courtesy of my iPod this time around). We even staged a photo of us working, surrounded by Star Wars figurines. (I say staged because I sat at the desk in the photo, but his was in a different nook.) I had lunch with Darth Vader, who agreed to cut the pecorino with his light saber (actually, it’s Obi-Wan’s light saber; Darth lost his a long time ago).

When the weather was nice, I escaped the cats—Sakura and the newly adopted and unbelievably cute kitten, Perseo (renamed El Tigre by yours truly)—and sat on the veranda overlooking the Tuscan valleys and Montepulciano to breathe some fresh air (which helped a bit with my allergies). I had to clear the table when Maria had to set it so we could eat. It was so lovely outside that we gathered there to partake of Olivia’s fabulous cooking.

It’s quite astounding that with all these distractions that Francesco and I got any work done, but we did. Getting away from the office is actually when I’m most productive in writing articles: there is only one project on which to work and working in a team forces you to get things done to keep up with your colleagues. Oh! Don’t go thinking that the article is completely finished, not by a long shot; but at least we actually started writing—which is a very good start! Now, we just need to keep the momentum.

May the False Door be with You!

 

How to Observe in Archaeology

I greatly enjoyed this post and thought I would share. I love the advice to amateur archaeologists… back in 1920! (Keep up the good work, Anna!)

Ancient Cypriot art in Leeds

Recently I came across this intriguing slim volume, a guide to amateur archaeology in the Near and Middle East, produced at the recommendation of the British Museum’s Archaeological Joint Committee and published by the Museum in 1920. It was edited by G.F. Hill, Keeper of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, with individual chapters by experienced scholars.

Title page of How to Observe in Archaeology Title page of How to Observe in Archaeology

It’s essentially a ‘how-to’ guide for travellers who fancied having a go at archaeology on their way through the Near and Middle East, or in the intervals of their duties in these regions (while it is not explicitly stated, a male traveller is clearly assumed, and indeed the joint authors are all men). The Committee appear to have taken the view that the energies of amateur excavators and collectors should be directed in order to minimise damage to archaeological sites, as well as adding to scientific knowledge…

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Raleigh: the collection under my care

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ROCHELEAU, C.M. Ancient Egyptian Art. North Carolina Museum of Art, 2012.

ROCHELEAU, C.M. Ancient Egyptian Art. North Carolina Museum of Art, 2012.

This one is for Ken O., who believes my systematic catalogue of the Egyptian collection–an outstanding publication, which he read from cover to cover (his words)–deserves as much attention on my blog as the publication of my doctoral dissertation (this catalogue is mentioned in the What is archaeology? chronicle, at the end, in the “collection and exhibition” blurb).

Today, I’m using  Ancient Egyptian Art as an excuse to present (a tad earlier than anticipated) a page in the Photo Diary about the Egyptian collection under my care. If you take a look at ARCHÉOblogue, my French-language blog, you’ll see it was published there on May 26. What is posted there eventually ends up being posted here  (and vice versa).

A Visit to Meroe

When I came home from work, there was a nice little surprise in my mailbox: a small but thick envelope from Krzys, my former thesis supervisor. I knew immediately what it was and grabbed my letter opener to open the letter quickly. Inside I found a lovely booklet—with colour pictures on glossy pages—about the archaeological site of Meroe (pronounced MAY-roe-ay) in Sudan. It is a visitors’ guide to the site, which is close enough to Khartoum to do as a day trip (tiring, but feasible). I worked at Meroe with Krzys during my graduate studies and the Great Amun Temple found there was part of my doctoral dissertation (which was on Amun temples in Nubia, published in 2008 by Archaeopress).

It’s pouring down with rain at the moment, so I think I will make myself a cup of tea and read ‘A Visit to Meroe, the Ancient Royal Capital.

(Thanks for the booklet, Krzys!)

A photo I took of the Great Amun Temple of Meroe in November 2000 (it's been a while!).

A photo I took of the Great Amun Temple of Meroe in November 2000 (it’s been a while!).

Catching up on world archaeology

After a walk in the Museum Park, lunch at my neighbourhood deli, a few errands and laps at the gym pool, I came home to find the latest Archaeology magazine in my mailbox. (It is published by the AIA.) I spent the second half of the afternoon lounging on my balcony reading it, enjoying the unusually pleasant summer weather.

I learned about excavations under Mexico City and the renewed research on the Gokstad ship burial first excavated more than a century ago (Norway). I caught up with the work of my colleague Josef Wegner (not Wenger, as misspelled in the article) at Abydos (Egypt). There were several other articles about archaeological research going on at various places around the world—all very interesting! It kept me happily occupied until dinner time.

A book in a book

Yesterday, I had to check something in the Louvre’s exhibition catalogue Meroe, Empire on the Nile. We got this superb publication a while ago, but I never had the chance to really read any parts of it.  So, I sat to read a couple of the essays and imagine my surprise when, in one of them, I saw my book on Amun temples mentioned in the references! (Actually, it’s the book listed on Amazon as having been published in 1850, see the OMG! LOL! post dated February 27.)

In a way, I should not be surprised. My book is indeed relevant to the topic presented in the essay. I guess I’m still early enough in my career to be tickled by having other scholars mention my own work in theirs.