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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Egypt Centre Collection Blog: "Wonderful Things" Conference Review
On 05/27/19 04:35, Ken Griffin wrote:
"Wonderful Things" Conference Review The Wonderful Things conference was held over two days and was opened by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Martin Stringer. The focus of the conference was to showcase the objects from the Egypt Centre collection, and it did not disappoint. The conference featured sixteen speakers, with the topics ranging in date from the Predynastic Period through the nineteenth century. First up was Wendy Goodridge (Assistant Curator at the Egypt Centre) who provided an excellent overview of the history of the Egypt Centre, highlighting the diverse range of activities and outreach that the collection has been involved in, including some lovely anecdotes about the early days of the museum (fig. 1). Ken Griffin (Collections Access Manager at the Egypt Centre) presented the history of the Tjenti lintel (W491), which served as a good example of the complex life cycle and journey of the object through numerous collections across the world, as is often the case with many of the Egypt Centre objects.

Fig. 1: Wendy Goodridge presenting on the history of the Egypt Centre collection

Kasia Szpakowska (Associate Professor of Egyptology at Swansea University) gave a fascinating talk on the wooden bed legs (W2052a & W2052b) and the nature of the daemons featured upon them, comparing them stylistically to other examples to establish what kind of bed they belonged to, and who may have owned it. Phil Parkes (Senior Conservator at Cardiff University) provided a run-through of the progress on the conservation of an Egypt Centre coffin (AB118), with examples of some of the painstaking work carried out by their students. Troy Sagrillo (Senior Lecturer in Egyptology at Swansea University) explained the rarity of the depiction of Third Intermediate Period pharaoh Djehutiemhat on a faience scribal palette (EC2018), along with an overview of the chronology of the period—an often overlooked period of Egyptian history (fig. 2). Carolyn Graves-Brown (Curator of the Egypt Centre) explored some of the more obscure depictions on the coffin of Iwesemhesetmut (W1982), using comparative evidence to identify the unusual deities (as well as a bag of onions!) assisting Iwesemhesetmut on her journey to the afterlife.

Fig. 2: Model scribal palette of Djehutiemhat (EC2018)

Amr Gaber gave an in-depth analysis of the stela (W946 bis) of the mother of the Buchis Bull, dating to the time of Commodus, including highlighting an unusual image of a mummiform Isis (fig. 3). This stela was discovered by the Egypt Exploration Society at Armant. Paul Nicholson (Professor in Archaeology at Cardiff University) continued on the theme of bull burials and Armant by using the coffin clamps to highlight the issues with the mummification processes and burial practices of bovines.

Stela of Commodus (W946 bis)

On the second day, Dulcie Engel (Egypt Centre volunteer) opened proceedings with some of the objects collected by the Reverend John Foulkes Jones, emphasizing the kinds of things that were considered important to the Victorian collector for inclusion in their 'cabinets of curiosity'. This included a metal object labelled as the "summit of Cheops" (EC1920)! John Rogers presented a Bes bell (WK44), and a unique object currently described as a whistle (W247), which originates from the William MacGregor collection (fig. 4). The latter object generated a lot of discussion as to its origins. If any readers know of parallels, John would be very keen to hear about them!

Fig. 4: Whistle (W247)

Christian Knoblauch (Lecturer in Material Culture at Swansea University) provided an in-depth study of a Predynastic vessel with an animal frieze (W415); another unique item, considering the authenticity of both the pottery vessel itself and its painted decoration (fig. 5). Katharina Zinn (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) gave an excellent overview of wooden headrests, including AB80 from the Egypt Centre. She discussed the individual nature of these objects and the importance of experiential archaeology—which included lots of delegates testing out some model headrests. After lunch, Nigel Pollard (Associate Professor in Ancient History at Swansea University) used a selection of Imperial Roman coins to demonstrate the significance of depictions of Roman Imperial women on these objects, explaining the significance of the legends and choice of images well for those of us who are more comfortable in dynastic Egypt!

Fig. 5: Nagada III D-Ware vessel (W415)

Ersin Hussein (Lecturer of Ancient History at Swansea University) presented an overview of the current progress on a SURGE funded metals project using Egypt Centre material to evaluate the cultural value and significance of metals, using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) to help determine provenance and chronologies of metal objects. Mark Humphries (Professor of Ancient History at Swansea University) explained the iconography of object EC1473, which depicts the Roman Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena holding the true relic of the cross identifying the obelisk of Thutmose III and the serpent-headed column flanking them (fig. 6). Finally, Syd Howells (Volunteer Manager at the Egypt Centre) gave a highly entertaining overview of Dr William Price based around the medal (EC1149) commemorating the cremation of his son Iesu Grist (Jesus Christ), and poster (EC1943) announcing the birth of his second son of the same name, and discussing the influence of Egypt on this very unique individual.

Fig. 6: Plaque depicting Constantine and Helena in the Hippodrome at Constantinople (EC1473)

Unlike other conferences, during the breaks there was an opportunity to handle some of the object being discussed, which really helped to bring the topics to life (fig. 7). The object-centred approach added cohesion to the day, and served as a reminder that the museum really does hold "wonderful things". As Wendy Goodridge pointed out, there are many stories held within the collection that deserve the opportunity to be told. Equally, there is enormous scope for further research on the objects, which will hopefully provide many more stories for years to come. The informal atmosphere (and excellent buffet!) sparked some interesting discussions around the objects, with the consensus being that an annual event highlighting research on Egypt Centre objects would be of enormous value!

Fig. 7: Delegates with the "summit of Cheops" (EC1920)

--   Sent from my Linux system.

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