The Egypt Exploration Society RSS

The EES has been working in Egypt since 1882. Our aim is to make all aspects of the culture of ancient and historic Egypt (to 1900 AD) better known to the public.

Our fieldwork and research is undertaken in Egypt itself and the results of this work are made available through our website (www.ees.ac.uk), our publications, and through events held in London and Cairo.

The Society is a registered UK charity and relies on subscriptions and donations to fund its work. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in ancient Egypt.

Please pay us a visit at www.ees.ac.uk or on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/4ofceb.

Archive

May
19th
Tue
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Recognising the Society’s contribution to Nubian history

On Wednesday 13 May the Society hosted a fascinating lecture by Joost Hagen, a doctoral student at Leiden University in The Netherlands, on ‘A dossier of one Arabic and four Coptic letters found at Qasr Ibrim (AD 758-60)’.

L-R: Jenny Cromwell, Joost Hagen, Daniela Rosenow, Stephan Witetschek and Konstantin Klein after Joost Hagen’s lecture at the Society

This group of five letters from the eighth century AD were excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society at Qasr Ibrim in 1972. One, from the Abbasid governor of Muslim Egypt to the Christian king of Makuria and Nobadia, is written in Arabic and has been published and commented on several times; the others, written in Coptic, have only been discussed briefly. The speaker’s doctoral research has led to a reassessment of the purpose of the Coptic letters and the question of their writer and addressee. The complete dossier sheds light on the political, economic and religious contacts between Christian Nubia and Muslim Egypt, and the problems both had with the nomadic tribe called the Blemmyes or Beja.

Mr Hagen has been preparing the publication of Coptic manuscripts discovered by the Society at Qasr Ibrim, and has recently made a most interesting discovery, indentifying some fragments as having come from the Second book of Enoch, a pseudepigraphic of the Old Testament. This is the first time an example of a non-Slavonic manuscript of this intriguing text has been found. The fragments, found in 1972, are four in number, and probably represent the remnants of four consecutive leaves of a parchment codex.

For most Coptic texts, a translation from a Greek original is taken for granted and the existence of this Coptic version might well confirm the possibility that an original Greek version of the Book of the Secrets of Enoch existed in Egypt, probably at Alexandria. Mr Hagen will be presenting his findings at the 2009 Enoch Seminar in Naples (http://www.enochseminar.org/#app=844&4d97-selectedIndex=0).

The medal presented to the Society by NCAM of Sudan

The Society’s work at Ibrim began as part of the British contribution to the UNESCO campaign in Lower Nubia during the 1960s. A conference to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the appeal to save the monuments was held in Aswan in March 2009. As a gesture of thanks the Society was awarded a medal by the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) of Sudan, and this is now kept at the London offices.

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Apr
30th
Thu
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EES focusses on the Delta

On 26 March 2009, the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the EES hosted a workshop to discuss the problems and priorities for future archaeological work in the Nile Delta. The workshop, held at the British Council in Cairo, was attended by 54 participants of varying nationalities and backgrounds, many of whom had extensive experience of working on sites in the Delta.

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L-R: Penny Wilson, Jeffrey Spencer and Mohammed Abdel Maksoud at the Delta workshop


The SCA was officially represented by Mr Sabri Abdel Aziz Khater and Dr Mohammed Abdel Maksoud and we were pleased to welcome many other SCA personnel who work in the Delta. Short presentations were given by Drs Jeffrey Spencer, Joanne Rowland and Penny Wilson but these were deliberately kept brief so as to maximise the amount of time available for participants to share their own views and experiences.

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Professor Manfred Bietak summarises the morning session at the Delta workshop

A full report on the day’s proceedings is available on the Society’s website: http://ees.ac.uk/fieldwork/DeltaWorkshopSummary.pdf

For a larger selection of photographs from the day please go here: http://tinyurl.com/c28tkx


Many readers will know that Jeffrey and Patricia Spencer (the Society’s Director) spent a short season at Yetwal wa Yuksur for the Survey earlier in March, and reported on their progress via a specially created blog: http://deltasurvey.tumblr.com/

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The Society’s Delta Survey blog: http://deltasurvey.tumblr.com/

Using nothing more than an ordinary, Egyptian mobile phone Patricia was able to send updates directly from the site on an almost daily basis. Feedback received from members and others was very positive and we are hoping to use this model to keep members and others directly informed of our work in future.

In addition to this, three other projects, supported by the EES, have been working in the Delta over the last few weeks.

The Tell Basta Project, directed by Drs Eva Lange and Daniela Rosenow received a grant for its work in 2009 from the Society’s Excavation Fund. The team is concentrating its efforts in the area around the great temple of the cat-goddess Bastet, which has never been surveyed properly.

Daniela Rosenow at Tell Basta

Secondly, thanks to the generous contributions of EES members and others to an appeal launched in late 2008, Dr Joanne Rowland has been able to undertake her work at Gebel Ramla, one of the first round of Amelia Edwards Projects.

UPDATE 8 May 2009: Dr Rowland is now posting regular updates from her work in Minufiyeh Province to the Society’s Delta Survey blog: http://deltasurvey.tumblr.com/

Drs Rosenow and Rowland, as well as Dr Patricia Spencer, will both be presenting the results of their recent work at the EES conference in London on 20 and 21 June 2009.

Further details of this event are available http://tinyurl.com/c98jcb

A ticket application form is here: http://tinyurl.com/647uxr

Finally, the University of Durham / EES mission continued its survey work at Sais in the Western Delta with a short season in March - April. On 4 April the project Director, Penny Wilson, entertained an enthusiastic group of EES members with an energetic tour of the site and the team’s magazine, which now doubles as a small visitor centre complete with information panels in English and Arabic for the benefit of the local population.

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Penny Wilson and EES members among the temple ruins at Sais

After a full exploration of the site, the EES members also paid a visit to the monumental ruins of the 30th Dynasty / early Ptolemaic temple of Behbeit el Hagar.

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The Society’s Cairo representative Mrs Faten Saleh gives a talk to EES members among the ruins at Behbeit el Hagar

Details of Cairo events for May are now available here: http://tinyurl.com/chuhde

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Mar
12th
Thu
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Events Feb-Mar 09

Although we are barely into the third month of the year the Society can already look back on several successful events in 2009.

On Saturday 7 February a study day entitled ‘From Babylon to Amarna: ancient Middle Eastern interactions in the days of Akhenaten’ was held at Birkbeck College. This was the fourth in the Mesopotamia series of Birkbeck and British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI) events and was co-sponsored by the EES. The study-day was attended by 140 people, including a good number of EES members, who heard talks by Paul Collins, Jack Green, Frances Reynolds, Daniel Schwemer and Kate Spence, together with a ZIPANG (www.zipang.org.uk/) performance of ‘Nergal & Ereshigal’ and ‘The Ballad of the Former Heroes’.

A relief of a Nubian from a column base at Sesebi (photo courtesy of Kate Spence)

The first talk, by Dr Spence, set the Egyptian background for the day and included a summary of her work at Sesebi, part sponsored by the EES Excavation Fund, from which she has only recently returned after a very successful season. Dr Spence will be giving fuller report on the Sesebi season at the Society’s 2009 conference (20-21 June) and will also be writing an article for Egyptian Archaeology 35 (Autumn 2009).

The EES stand at the ‘Amarna to Babylon’ study day

The first of our 2009 seminars was held at Doughty Mews on 28 February. Drs Jeffrey and Patricia Spencer, the Society’s Director, entertained members with talks on their work at Tell el Balamun (the ‘Island of Amun’ - http://tinyurl.com/d9n7ge) and life on excavation in the Egyptian countryside. In addition two films shot in and around the area were shown, giving the audience a much better idea of the sights and sounds at Balamun than would otherwise have been possible.

Patricia Spencer in full flow at the Balamun seminar

And on the evening of Monday 9 March, a group of members were treated to a private view of the new Nebamun Galleries at the British Museum (see EA 33 (2008), 21-4). The famous paintings, genuine masterpieces of Egyptian art, have only recently been redisplayed having undergone several years of study and conservation. Members, some of whom had come from overseas, were provided with refreshments in the department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan before being shown to the new gallery by Museum staff. The Society is extremely grateful to the Keeper of the Department, Mr Vivian Davies, for his generosity in providing this opportunity for members, and to Claire Messenger and her team for all their help in arranging the evening and ensuring that members enjoyed themselves.

Members enjoying the private view of the Nebamun paintings

Feedback received so far has been very positive:

On the Balamun seminar:

“Great session on Balamun on Saturday. Loved the movie! Thanks.”;

“I hope you’ll be organising a few more days like that at Doughty Mews - I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the couple I’ve been to.”

On the Nebamun private view:

“Thanks for being such excellent hosts”;

“an excellent event”.

Details of our April - July events will be available soon and we are very much looking forward to taking these opportunitites to meet as many of you as possible!

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Feb
6th
Fri
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Members’ trip to the Gilf Kebir

From 25 December 2008 to 6 January 2009 a group of EES members took a trip to the Gilf Kebir and surrounding sites. The party was led by the Society’s Cairo representative Mrs Faten Saleh and took in variety of sites dating from the Old Kingdom (Abu Ballas) to the Second World War (Eight Bells).

EES members with Professor Hamdan (left) at the memorial to Prince Kamal

The group also visited the memorial of Prince Kamal who gave the Gilf Kebir plateau its name, and then a series of caves including those at Wadi Sura, and the Foggini cave which was discovered as recently as 2002, before driving to Aqaba Pass and then onto the plateau itself. From here the group drove to visited a number of Neolithic sites in the Wadi Abdel Malik, and finally on to the ‘Great Sand Sea’, Wadi el Obayed and the White Desert.

Members inspecting a decorated cave

Mrs Saleh organises regular trips from Cairo to a wide variety of sites, most of which are some way off the regular tourist trail. For further information about forthcoming trips and also the lecture programme in Cairo, please contact Faten via the society’s website: http://www.ees.ac.uk/the-society/cairo.htm

Update 9 December 2010: Many thanks to Professor Hamdan for providing the group with a series of fascinating talks at each of the sites; his contribution was much appreciated by the members.

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Dec
1st
Mon
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Books for sale on eBay!

As readers may know, 900+ Egyptology books were donated to the Society earlier this year by Mrs Edwina Iredale. Many of the titles can already be found in the Society’s library and we have decided to sell the duplicates to raise funds for the purchase of new books. A selection has already appeared on eBay and more will be added in the next few days.

See the Society’s eBay profile for details:

http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/ees1882/?_trksid=p3911.c0.m346

UPDATE 06 Feb 2009: The auction was a great success and raised approximately £1,800 for the the purchase of new books for the Society’s library. We are very grateful to all those who participated. Less valuable books which were previously on sale at the Society’s London offices and at our events are now being added to eBay, and a second sale of more valuable items is planned for later this year (April/May). Full details will be made available in due course.

UPDATE 20 Feb 2009: A full list of new titles accessioned to the library in December 2008 and January 2009, most of which were bought with the proceeds of the auction, is now available at http://tinyurl.com/b4m9zc

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Nov
21st
Fri
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Who Was Who in Egyptology

The third edition of Who Was Who in Egyptology (London, EES, 1995) is now, unfortunately, out of print. Members will be pleased to know however that the editor, Dr Morris Bierbrier, is now preparing a fourth edition, which is provisionally scheduled for publication in 2010.

The cover of the third edition of Who Was Who… showing Flinders Petrie and Amy Urlin at Abydos in 1900.

Who Was Who… has become an invaluable tool for anyone researching the history of Egyptology, which in turn is essential to you understanding of sites, monuments and ancient Egypt in general. The publication is a “A Biographical Index of Egyptologists; of Travellers, Explorers, and Excavators in Egypt; of Collectors and Dealers in Egyptian Antiquities; of Consuls, Officials, Authors, Benefactors, and others whose names occur in the Literature of Egyptology, from the year 1500 to the present day, but excluding persons now living.” Dr Bierbrier would welcome members’ suggestions as to who should be added to those who appeared in the third edition and would be very keen to hear from any members who have additional information on the individuals included previously.

Furthermore, the Society hopes to include many more photographs in the fourth edition than have appeared previously, and members are also asked to contribute any images they may have of individuals who are included. The Society cannot promise to include all photographs that it receives in the next edition but would gladly add them to its archives. Photographs or related enquiries should be sent to the Deputy Director, Chris Naunton (chris.naunton@ees.ac.uk).

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Nov
20th
Thu
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Amelia Edwards Projects successfully launched!

The Inaugural Amelia Edwards Projects were launched after the Deir el Medina study day at SOAS on 25 October 2008.

The Amelia Edwards Projects: Gebel Ramla, Karnak Land- and Waterscapes Survey, Oral History of Egyptology. Further information on the projects is here: http://www.ees.ac.uk/fieldwork/ABEProjectsleafletNov08.pdf

Members were treated to presentations on the proposed work and project representatives were on hand at the reception afterwards to discuss plans and to answer questions. Sadly, Angus Graham and Judith Bunbury, directors of the Karnak Land and Waterscapes Survey, were unable to attend the launch, however Kristian Strutt who has worked with them at Karnak in the past nobly stepped into the breach to take their place.

Kristian Strutt explains the Karnak work to Gordon Le Roux and Barbara Pentlow

Joanne Rowland talks to members about her proposal to work at Gebel Ramla.

A number of donations were received at the launch, and several of those who were present have become members of the ‘Amelia Edwards Group’. Further funds will be required if all three projects are to run however and all contributions are very welcome therefore!

For further information and a donation form please see here: http://tinyurl.com/6y7qgb

Morris Bierbrier, Chris Naunton and Rosalind Janssen

More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/egyptexplorationsociety/sets/72157609518867929/

The study day itself was also a great success. Almost two hundred members were treated to excellent presentations by some of the foremost writers on the subject: Morris Bierbrier, Jac Janssen, Karen Exell, Mark Collier and Ben Haring.

Many thanks to all those who attended!

Members will have another opportunity to talk to the project directors on Saturday 13 December at the Society’s Chrtistmas party. Mulled wine and mince pies will be served, and all are welcome. Further information on this and other EES events is now available here: http://www.ees.ac.uk/home/EES_NewsEvents_AutumnWinter08_for_www.pdf

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Nov
12th
Wed
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The Society returns to Maskhuta

The Society’s Director, Patricia Spencer, is in Ismailiya awaiting the start of work for a new British Museum project, and has visited, with Jeffrey Spencer and Campbell Price, the nearby site of Tell el-Maskhuta, the first site excavated by Edouard Naville for the newly-founded Egypt Exploration Fund.

Jeffrey Spencer and Campbell Price explore the temple area at Maskhuta. Photo: Patricia Spencer

Naville worked there in 1883, finding what he believed (wrongly) were remains of the ‘store chambers’ of Pithom, mentioned in the Bible. He also found a series of spectacular objects some of which are now on display in the British Museum.

Left: the cover of Naville’s publication of his work at Maskhuta. Right: votive statue of a falcon discovered at the site by Naville (now BM EA1006: see http://tinyurl.com/6qxuab)

The excavations were published in the EEF’s first Excavation Memoir ‘The Store-City of Pithom and the route of the Exodus’. The site today is still a large mound, with the remains of excavated brick walls, including Naville’s ‘store chambers’ (actually a Late Period casemate foundation), and the temple enclosure wall.

Campbell Price standing on part of the temple enclosure wall. Photo: Patricia Spencer

Several large blocks of stone are scattered on the surface of the site and within the village on the southern edge of the site is a large Late Period sarcophagus.

The large sarcophagus situated in the village next to Maskhuta. Photo: Patricia Spencer

The temple enclosure is clearly visible on satellite images: see the GoogleEarth presentation within the EES Delta Survey (http://www.ees.ac.uk/deltasurvey/earthlink.html), where Tell el-Maskhuta is site no.216.

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Sep
19th
Fri
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Gebel el-Haridi: a project revived

The site of Gebel Sheikh el-Haridi is situated along the commanding limestone cliffs that border the east bank of the Nile between Sohag and Asyut.

Salima Ikram and Wendy Monkhouse survey difficult terrain overlooking the Nile at Haridi

An EES mission, co-directed by Chris Kirby and Sara Orel worked in the area intermittently between 1991 and 1998. Their survey yielded evidence for the use of the site from the Old Kingdom through the Romano-Byzantine period and the team also discovered rock cut tombs from all periods with painted and carved decorations, many of which were later enlarged and exploited for the quarrying of the fine limestone that is a feature of the area.

Unfinished blocks left in Quarry C

One such tomb/quarry is marked by a monumental inscription of Ramesses III, which has echoes in the full name of the nearby village of Medina el-Muksara el-Khazindariya Sharq Lohat Ramesses(!).

The monumental inscription of Ramesses III

The site remained in use both as a cemetery and a quarry through the Ptolemaic Period. In the Roman era a small town associated with what has tentatively been identified as a guard post established itself on the slopes of the cliff, and evidence for Coptic occupation was found in the disused quarries and also in the mud brick dwellings the punctuate the site.

The entrance to Quarry F

Mr Kirby has since become involved in other projects and Dr Orel and Professor Salima Ikram have taken on the task of publishing the results of the survey. To this end Professor Ikram has visited Doughty Mews several times recently to review the original field notes and photographs in the Society’s archives in preparation for the final publication.

Many thanks to Professor Ikram for supplying the above report. Preliminary reports on the earliest seaons by Mr Kirby and Professor Ikram were published in Egyptian Archaeology 2 (‘Land of the Plumed Serpent’, 1992) and 4 (‘Haridi’s High Society’, 1994).

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Aug
25th
Mon
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Francesco Tiradritti lecture

On 11 July 2008 the Society EES members were treated to a lecture by Dr Francesco Tiradritti of the Associazione Culturale “Harwa 2001” ONLUS and Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission to the tombs of Harwa (TT 37), Akhimenru (TT 404) and Pabasa (TT 297) in Luxor. Dr Tiradritti spoke about ‘Excavations, Discoveries, Perspectives’ in TT 37, where his work has been focused in the last few years.

The audience was thrilled to see images of the interior of the tomb which has never been open to the public, and to hear of the discovery of previously unknown reliefs, some of which shed new light on the heirs of this important official of Dynasty 25.

The artists who worked on the tomb of Harwa were extremely skilled as is shown by this relief of a herd of donkeys from the courtyard. Note the complexity of the rendering of their legs and ears. Photo: Giacomo Lovera.

Another relief from the courtyard of TT 37 is revealed. The inscription relates to Harwa’s namesake, his nephew and heir, whose head is shown emerging from the debris: “The beloved son of his brother, Harwa, son of Padimaat.”

The lecture was held in the elegant rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, as was the reception which followed it, at which members had the opportunity to discuss the work of the Italian Mission with Dr Tiradritti himself.

EES members at the reception after Dr Tiradritti’s lecture.

The Society’s Deputy Director, Chris Naunton and Dr Tiradritti outside the Society of Antiquaries.

The photographs taken in the tomb appear courtesy of the Associazione Culturale “Harwa 2001” ONLUS. For further information on their work please see their website: http://www.harwa.it/.

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