Thursday, 4 February 2016

Consultant on Ridley Scott's "Exodus" to speak at Swansea

Image via

On Wednesday 24 February,  the Friends of the Egypt Centre are delighted to welcome Professor Alan Lloyd to the Swansea campus.  Professor Lloyd has recently been the consultant on the Ridley Scott movie "Exodus: Gods and Kings." He was seconded to Scott's crew to advise on the re-creation of the Egyptian cities of Pi-Rameses and Memphis.

Professor Lloyd will be speaking about Decoding Egyptian Art and there will also be the chance after the lecture to ask questions about his role in the film's production!!!!

The talk will begin at 7pm.  Doors open at 6.30pm.

Plenty of pre-loved history books will be on sale too for a  small  donation.

Swansea Campus, 

Fulton House 2
Free to members; £3 on the door

Everyone is welcome!!!!

For more details contact the Egypt Centre on 01792 295960

Read all about Professor Lloyd's involvement in the film by clicking below:

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Transforming the Body Egyptian Style

Image - The Guardian

A new exhibition has opened at Two Temple Place in London which offers an insight into the ancient Egyptian relationship with appearance and identity.  Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt explores these themes through a variety of objects   which include painted coffins, figures, jewellery, mirrors, hairpins, scent containers and make-up.  There is even a gold mummy mask of a Roman citizen who elected to be buried in Egyptian style.  Many of the objects were uncovered as a result of 19th century excavations and are displayed to the public at Temple Place for the very first time. 

The exhibition is curated by Egyptologist Dr Margaret Serpico and Heba And El Gawad, a PhD student in Egyptian Archaeology at Durham University.  Seven regional museums have been involved in the exhibition, with each loaning objects from their own collections.  The story of how these wonderful objects arrived in places such as Ipswich, Bolton, Kirklees in West Yorkshire and Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex is also explored through the display.

Exhibition Dates: Saturday 30th January - Sunday 24th April 2016

Exhibition Opening Times: Monday, Thursday - Saturday: 10am - 4:30pm Wednesday Late: 10am - 9pm, Sunday: 11am - 4:30pm, Closed on Tuesday

Admission is Free.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Climbing the Great Pyramid...Victorian Style!

I have read with interest about the recent antics of German teenager Andrej Ciesielski who took it upon himself to climb the Great Pyramid in Giza  to obtain the ultimate tourist photograph atop the peak of the 4500 year old monument.  Ciesielski made a video of his 8 minute ascent which he then posted online on his blog.  The video has since received thousands of hits.
Ciesieski's photo on top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops
Image - Caters News Agency via Daily Mail
I in no way condone what he did at all - climbing the pyramids is strictly prohibited, damages the monuments and lets admit it, is flipping dangerous to say the least.  If prosecuted, the culprit can get up to 3 years in prison.  Ciesieski was lucky and escaped with a warning. 

The story did however intrigue me as I am currently writing up my research about the antics of our Victorian and Edwardian predecessors who considered this act a "must do" tourist activity.  Here is a photograph from my own collection to be going on with...

Image - author's own.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

Teenager risks imprisonment for the ultimate holiday photo as he films himself CLIMBING Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza

Great Pyramid of Giza: Video shows teenager Andrej Ciesielski climbing ancient wonder

Monday, 1 February 2016

Important Discovery of a Old Kingdom Boat with an Important Owner!

The Ministry of Antiquities Press Office have released another exciting find - a unique boat from the Old Kingdom which has been discovered at Abusir.

The boat, uncovered by an expedition led by the Czech Institute of Egyptology, appears to have had an important owner who was connected to the royal family.  Here is the press statement:

"The mission of the Czech Institute of Egyptology, Faculty
of Arts, Charles University in Prague has recently made an
unexpected discovery at Abusir South that once again highlights
the importance of this cemetery of the Old Kingdom officials.
Work commenced in 2009 on a large mastaba termed AS 54, followed
by several seasons of excavations. Its exceptional size (52.60 x
23.80 m), orientation, architectural details, as well as the
name of king Huni (Third Dynasty,) discovered on one of the
stone bowls buried in the northern underground chamber, indicate
the high social standing of the person buried in the main (so
far unlocated) shaft. Unfortunately, his name remains unknown
due to the bad state of preservation of the cruciform chapel.

Clearing the area south of Mastaba AS 54 revealed an 18 m-long
wooden boat during the 2015 excavation season. It was lying on
tafla, covered with the wind-blown sand. Although the boat is
situated almost 12 m south of Mastaba AS 54, its orientation,
length, and the pottery collected from its interior, make a
clear connection between the structure and the vessel, both
dating to the very end of the Third or beginning of the Fourth
Dynasty, ca 2550 BC.

While extremely fragile, the roughly 4,500 year old planks
will shed new light on ship building in ancient Egypt. The
wooden planks were joined by wooden pegs that are still visible
in their original position.
Extraordinarily, the desert sand has preserved the plant fiber
battens which covered the planking seams. Some of the ropes that
bound the boat together are also still in their original position
with all their details intact, which is a unique discovery in the
study of ancient Egyptian boats.
All these minute details are of the highest importance, since
most of the ancient Egyptian boats and ships have survived either
in poor state of preservation, or were dismantled in pieces. During
the 2016 season, the Czech Institute of Egyptology will launch a
project, together with experts from the Institute of Nautical
Archaeology (INA) at Texas A&M University, to study the techniques
used in the hull’s construction.
The construction details are not the only features that make the
boat unique. The habit of burying boats beside mastabas began in
the Early Dynastic Period. This phenomenon has been well documented
for royal structures, as well as for some tombs belonging to members
of the royal family, the elite of society. Dr. Miroslav Bárta,
director of the mission notes: “In fact, this is a highly unusual
discovery since boats of such a size and construction were, during
this period, reserved solely for top members of the society, who
usually belonged to the royal family. This suggests the potential
for additional discoveries during the next spring season.”

Scholars debate the purpose of Egyptian boat burials. Did they
serve the deceased in the afterlife, or might they have functioned
as symbolical solar barques, used during the journey of the owner
through the underworld.
The Old Kingdom kings adopted the earlier tradition, and often had
several boats buried within their pyramid complexes. Unfortunately,
most of the pits have been found already empty of any timber,
others contained little more than brown dust in the shape of the
original boat. The only exception were the two boats of Khufu that
have survived, and were reconstructed or are in the process of

However, there was no boat of such dimensions from the Old Kingdom
found in a non-royal context, until the new discovery at Abusir.
“It is by all means a remarkable discovery. The careful excavation
and recording of the Abusir boat will make a considerable
contribution to our understanding of ancient Egyptian watercraft
and their place in funerary cult. And where there is one boat,
there very well may be more.” adds director of the excavations,
Miroslav Bárta.

The boat by the southern wall of Mastaba AS 54 indicates the
extraordinary social position of the owner of the tomb. Since it
is not located adjacent to a royal pyramid, the owner of the
mastaba was probably not a member of the royal family: both the
size of the tomb, as well as the presence of the boat itself,
however, clearly places the deceased within the elite of his
time with strong connections to the reigning pharaoh. "

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Ancient Egyptian Carpentry - a short video!

Nice short video from BBC Radio Cambridge featuring Julie Dawson, Head of Conservation at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, talking about Egyptian carpentry ahead of the Death on the Nile Exhibition which opens on 23rd February 2016.

Image via BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Thank you to the West Midlands Egyptological society for the link.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Eminent Professor of Egyptology to Deliver Swansea talk

The February lecture from the Friends of the Egypt Centre in Swansea welcomes Professor Alan Lloyd who will be speaking on Decoding Egypt Art.

Professor Lloyd was Chairman of the Egypt Exploration Society between 1994-2007 and a Vice-President until his election as President in 2011.  He retired in 2006 from his post as Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Swansea.  He participated in EES excavations at North Saqqara in 1972-3 and with the Society's Saqqara Epigraphic Survey which began work in 1976 on a series of Old Kingdom tombs in the Teti Pyramid Cemetery.  Professor Lloyd is an authority on the writings of the historian Herodotus and has an extensive publication record.  He has served as Editor of the EES Excavation Memoirs and edited the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology from 1979 to 1985.

Talk Abstract:
One of the most important elements in the development of any society’s representational strategies is the generation of a visual code which makes it possible to express what that society needs to express in particular contexts.  Such codes are often of great sophistication, requiring great care in interpretation,  and of  no society is this more true than that of Ancient Egypt.  What I propose to do in the current lecture is to analyse a series of representations in order to establish the underlying iconographical principles.

Egyptian Sekhemka statue sale prompts ethics code change

Sekhema - image via BBC News
It is interesting to see in the media today that the controversial sale of the ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhemka  by Northampton Borough Council has initiated a change in the code of ethics which is issued to museums.

The statue, which sold for £15m in 2014  in order to fund the museum's expansion, has remained a prominent issue with concern that it would leave the UK for good.  Considered the finest example of its kind, it was subject to a temporary export bar to prevent the new overseas owner from taking out of the country.
Sekhema Egyptian statue sale prompts museum ethics code change - BBC News reports:
"The Museums Association has warned organisations not to dispose of items for financial gain unless it benefits wider collections.
It will mean if a museum wants to sell an item, it can only do so "as a last resort" after exhausting other options.
When it put the statue up for auction, Northampton Borough Council said the cost of insuring it had become too high and the money was needed for a £14m extension to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery."
Sharon Heal, from the Museums Association, said she believed the council had lost out on potential visitors by selling the statue.
Sekhemka could have been part of an Egypt exhibition featuring collections from provincial museums due to open this week and would have "put Northampton on the map", she said.
Ms Heal believed the statue would be stored until export approval was granted to its new overseas owner, and would never be seen in public again.
The Save Sekhemka Group campaigning to keep the statue in the UK is expected to comment later.