The American Research Center in Egypt – New York Chapter

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Our Next Lecture

ARCE/NY LECTURE, Thursday, January 30, 2020



The American Research Center in Egypt, New York Chapter (ARCE/NY) in co-sponsorship with the Department of Classics & Ancient Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University, presents the following lecture in its Winter/Spring 2020 Lecture Series:

“Sacred Dancers: Nubian Women as Priestesses of Hathor”


SPEAKER: Dr. Solange Ashby, Fellow, Catholic University’s Institute of Christian Oriental Research and the American Research Center in Egypt.

LOCATION: Barnard College, 223 Milbank Hall (Ella Weed Room), New York.

223 Milbank Hallenter Barnard at 119th Gate and not the main entrance at 117th (avoids the steps if you walk through the courtyardturn right to enter Milbank – stepselevator on first floor on right – to second floor and turn left223 at top of steps if you walk up Campus Map:


ABSTRACT: Nubian women appear in Egyptian tomb and temple paintings as dancers for the goddess Hathor during much of Egyptian history.  The women perform wearing multi-colored leather skirts, cowrie shell belts, and displaying tattoos on their breasts, abdomens, and thighs. Recently, several tattooed, mummified female bodies have been excavated from the C-Group Nubian cemetery at Hierakonpolis in southern Egypt. Similar tattoos appear on priestesses of Hathor who were also queens of the Egyptian king Mentuhotep II (2061-2010 BCE). In the nomadic C-Group culture of Lower Nubia, ritual and worship were not organized around a sacred text, nor were they carried out in a temple. Rather, many important rites of passage and worship were based in communal performance of dance and music. In such rituals the power of music and movement were harnessed to transport the worshipper into an ecstatic encounter with the Divine. Worshippers engaged in nocturnal rituals for the goddess Hathor sought this type of ecstatic encounter.Ancient Egyptian texts preserve the name of this sacred dance (ksks) and document the ritual processions of Nubians into Egypt as they accompanied the return of the goddess Hathor who was believed to reside in Nubia and return annually to Egypt. This paper will trace the enduring presence of this sacred dance through its performance in Egypt, Nubia, Meroe, and perhaps its survival among groups living in Ethiopia today.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Solange Ashby received her Ph.D. in Egyptology, with a specialization in ancient Egyptian language and Nubian religion, from the University of Chicago in 2016. She has conducted field work in the temple of Isis at Philae in Egypt, participated in an excavation in El-Kurru, Sudan (royal Kushite cemetery), and holds fellowships at Catholic University’s Institute of Christian Oriental Research and the American Research Center in Egypt. Dr. Ashby has taught Religion at American University in Washington, DC since 2013. Her first book, Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae, will be released shortly by Gorgias Press.

Upcoming Egyptology Lectures in New York

February 13, 2020. ARCE NY Lecture in association with the Classical Studies Department of Columbia University. Dr Edward Bleiberg, “Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt”. 6:00 PM at Columbia University, 1200 Amsterdam Avenue, NY., NY. 10027, Schermerhorn Hall, Room 612.

April 2, 2020. ARCE NY/ ISAW Lecture. Dr. Marc J. Le Blanc, “In Accordance with the Documents of Ancient Times”: The Ancient Egyptian Sed Festival (Jubilee Festival).  6:00 PM at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. RSVP required.

April 7, 2020. ARCE Lecture. Dr. Aidan Dodson, “Rameses III, King of Egypt”. Location and time TBA.

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