2011 ARCE / NY Lectures

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
“The New York Obelisk: Trials and Tribulations”   

Dr. Bob Brier, host of award-winning televisions specials for TLC, one of the world’s foremost experts on mummies, author of several scholarly and popular books, and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University (to be introduced by Dr. Magda Saleh, Vice-President of Friends of New York Obelisk, former Prima Ballerina of the Russian-trained Cairo Ballet Company, recipient of scholarships, awards, honors and distinctions and the Senior Professor and Dean of the Higher Institute of Ballet and Founding Director of the New Cairo opera House – National Cultural Center).

Location:  Alston & Bird LLP,  90 Park Avenue, (between 39th and 40th Streets), N.Y., N.Y., 15th Floor Lecture Room (Note:  Photo ID Required to enter Building)

A holiday party will follow the Lecture

ABSTRACT: Recent discussions in the New York Times have claimed that New York’s obelisk is deteriorating. This lecture will discuss the history of the New York obelisk from ancient to modern times. After a brief introduction about how the obelisk was quarried and transported in ancient times, some of its more recent history will be discussed, including the remarkable story of its journey from Alexandria to New York in 1881. The talk will conclude with an assessment of the condition of the obelisk, as it is today and a discussion about what should be done.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Bob Brier earned his bachelor’s degree from Hunter College in New York and his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He has been a Fulbright Fellow and also Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Egyptology Today program. He is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on mummies and was the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian manner.

Dr. Brier hosted several award-winning television specials for TLC, including “The Great Egyptians” and “Unwrapped, the Mysterious World of Mummies.” He is the author of several scholarly and popular books including “Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians,” “The Murder of Tutankhamen,” and “Secret of the Great Pyramid.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

“Neith and the Two Biblical Deborahs: Some Intriguing Parallels.”

Gary Greenberg, President of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York (BASNY) and the author of several books on biblical and ancient Near Eastern History.

Location:  Alston & Bird LLP,  90 Park Avenue, (between 39th and 40th Streets), N.Y., N.Y., 15th Floor Lecture Room (Note:  Photo ID Required to enter Building)

A wine and cheese reception will follow the Lecture

Abstract: The biblical book of Judges contains two versions of the story of the judge Deborah, who rallied Israelite forces against Canaanite oppressors, one poetic and one narrative. The poetic account, which differs in many particulars from the narrative version, is thought to be one of the oldest biblical passages in the bible and preserves some cosmological elements that suggest some sort of battle between ancient gods.

The bible also contains a second story about a different Deborah, who served as Rebekah’s nurse.  (Rebekah eventually married Isaac, father of Jacob.) The passage is one sentence long and contains some odd iconic references to this nurse.

Neith was an Egyptian goddess identified with the kingship of Lower Egypt. Like the Greek Athena she had martial characteristics and the Greeks identified Athena with Neith. In some Egyptian circles Neith was a Creation deity who also functioned as a judge and as a nurturer.
In this talk, Mr. Greenberg will examine the iconography associated with Neith and the two biblical Deborahs and compare them. The talk will reveal some intriguing parallels that will suggest a possible literary relationship between the Egyptian goddess and the two  biblical characters.

About the Speaker: Gary Greenberg is President of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York and the author of several books on biblical and ancient Near Eastern History, including “Manetho: A Study In Egyptian Chronology” and “The Moses Mystery: The Egyptian Origins of the Jewish People.” He has presented papers at several ARCE conferences and has published articles in KMT, The Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, and Discussions in Egyptology. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

“The Good Life on the Nile: Touring Egypt by Sail and Steam”

Susan J. Allen, Senior Research Scholar, Department of Egyptian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Introduced by Ann Macy Roth, Clinical Associate Professor of Egyptology, Departments of Hebrew & Judaic Studies and of Art History, New York University).

ABSTRACT: People have been cruising the Nile now for more than 5000 years from the Predynastic Period to the present. The geography of the Nile Valley and river and its annual inundation have determined the development of Egyptian culture, civilization, history and economy and despite the advent of cars, trucks, trains and planes – travel by boat still remains part of everyday life. But for those of us visiting Egypt as tourists or scholars, a trip down the Nile has come to mean much more.

With the opening up of Egypt after the Napoleonic Expedition (1798-1801) and the rapid advances in transportation and communication in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Egypt became a destination for all those adventurers, artists, writers, and amateur travelers who had time, curiosity and the resources to venture down, or rather up then down, the Nile in small sailing vessels called dahabiyehs. With the invention of the package tour by Thomas Cook in the 1850’s, travel on the Nile shifted to small and large steamboats—the era of Agatha Christie and Death on the Nile. This lecture will present some the many ways people traveled, what they saw and how they recorded their trips in letters, journals, published accounts, drawings, watercolors and photographs. And surprisingly, ARCE’s link to this golden age of travel on the Nile. 

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Susan J. Allen is a Senior Research Scholar in the Department of Egyptian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies, Brown University. A graduate of the University of Chicago, she is a specialist in ancient Egyptian ceramics and has worked with a French mission in the Temple of Karnak, the NYU-IFA excavations at Mendes in the eastern Delta, and at Giza, Memphis and Amarna. Since 1993 she has participated in the Met’s current expedition to the Pyramid Complex of Senwosret III at Dahshur where she is responsible for the study and documentation of the ancient pottery recovered and the preparation of this material for publication. In 2007 she curated the exhibition “Discovering Tutankhamun: the Photographs of Harry Burton” at the Museum and is the author of the accompanying book, Tutankhamun’s Tomb: The Thrill of Discovery (MMA/Yale University Press, 2006). 

From 1978-1982 she lived in Cairo and during this time she had a unique opportunity—to live on a 1920’s vintage Thomas Cook tourist steamer on the Nile. As a result she became interested in the modern discovery of Egypt and the history of travel there and began to collect old travel accounts, guidebooks, photos, postcards and other ephemera from the 19th and early 20th centuries. She is also a member of the Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East.

The American Research Center In Egypt, New York Chapter (ARCE/NY)  presented the ARCE Chapters’ Visiting Tour 2011 Fall Series Lecture on September 14, 2011.

“Mysteries of Abydos:  Excavating and Saving the Monuments of Egypt’s Earliest Pharaohs”            

Dr. David O’Connor, The Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; and Co-Director, Excavations, at Abydos, Egypt. (Accompanied by Dina Aboul-Saad, Director of  Development, The American Research Center in Egypt and introduced by Stephanie Denkowicz, Secretary and Board Member of ARCE/NY and Partner, Alston & Bird, LLP.).

Location:  Alston & Bird LLP,  90 Park Avenue, (between 39th and 40th Streets), N.Y., N.Y., 15th Floor Lecture Room (Note:  Photo ID Required to enter Building)

A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception followed the Lecture

Abstract: When we think of ancient Egypt, we usually visualize pyramids, sphinxes and temples, all built by the Egyptian pharaohs over several thousands of years.  However, long before the pyramids, Egypt’s earliest kings – literally, “the First Dynasty”- were provided with monuments that seem very alien to the ancient Egyptian world as we usually imagine it. The tombs of these earliest pharaohs are at Abydos, along with two for Second Dynasty kings, but nearby are much larger and much more mysterious structures dedicated to these same rulers.

These structures seem almost inscrutable to modern Egyptology.  Why is their form so strange; for what unusual rites were they used; why are some surrounded by human sacrifices, and in one case, flanked by a fleet of ships, seemingly moored far out in the desert?  These mysterious structures were the largest built at this time and amazingly one – the largest and most massive- still survives today, almost 5000 years later.  Dedicated to the last king of the Second Dynasty, it occupies two and a half acres and in places stands close to its original height of about 33 feet.  Nevertheless, today this unique structure is on the brink of collapse but is being saved thanks to massive financial support available only because of ARCE’s extraordinary conservation and restoration program, which has already preserved or enhanced many buildings testifying to Egypt’s unique cultural heritage.

About the Speaker: Dr. David O’Connor studied Egyptology at University College, London and received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Since 1960, he frequently has excavated in Egypt, mostly at Abydos, but also at the palace site of Amenhotep III at Malkata. After 31 years as a professor and curator at the University of Pennsylvania and its museum, he was appointed Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU.  His recent book, “Abydos:  Egypt’s Earliest Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris  (Thames and Hudson), is the first comprehensive study of this major site to appear for many years. The paperback edition has just been published.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

 “Controversies in Egyptian Paleopathology: Who died of what? A second opinion.”

Dr. Miguel A. Sanchez , Chief of Pathology at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. 

Introduction by Dr. Suzanne Onstine, Assistant Professor of History, University of Memphis and Head of the Epigraphic Field Project at TT-16.

Location: ISAW, 15 East 84th Street, New York, New York

CAT scan of the mummy of Nesi-Amun. Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Catalogue of:” The Art of Medicine in Ancient Egypt”. 

Abstract: Paleopathology studies of Ancient Egypt are a unique tool to understand not only the medical aspects of the time, but also provide a window to that society in general. Historians frequently accept medical analysis of mummified remnants or translation of medical texts at face value. However different explanations are seldom discussed and questionable findings reach the Egyptology literature as gospel.  Sometimes it takes years for an alternative interpretation to reach the community of historians which may have pursued a line of research guided by the medical analysis. 

A series of case studies will be used to highlight how epidemiology, radiography and histopathology can be a great asset and sometimes a hindrance. Venereal diseases in Ancient Egypt, accidents and theories of royal deaths will be discussed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

“Tutankhamun’s Father”

Dr. James P. Allen, Wilbour Professor of Egyptology and Chair Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies, Brown University.

Introduction by Susan J. Allen, Senior Research Scholar, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Visiting Research Scholar, Brown University.

Location: ISAW, 15 East 84th Street, New York, New York 

Abstract:  One of the key questions of ancient Egyptian history is the relationship of the “boy-king” Tutankhamun to his predecessor, the “heretic” pharaoh Akhenaten, and the Amarna royal family. Drawing on both well-established data and new findings from the study of DNA from the royal mummies, this talk presents one possible solution to the historical mystery

About the Speaker:  James P. Allen is the Wilbour Professor of Egyptology at Brown University and president of the International Association of Egyptologists. He has served as Cairo Director of ARCE and curator of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is the author of numerous books and articles on ancient Egyptian language, literature, religion and history.

Thursday,  April 14, 2011

“New Light on The Burial of The Overseer of The Builders of Amun, Amenhotep”

Dr. Nicholas Reeves is the Sylvan C Coleman and Pamela Coleman Memorial Fellow in the Department of Egyptian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was formerly GAD Tait Curator of Egyptian and Classical Art at The Myers Museum, Eton College.

Location: Alston & Bird, LLP
90 Park Ave, 15th Floor Lecture Room
New York (between 39th and 40th Streets)

Abstract: An archaeological trail: what we know about a fragmentary coffin lid in the Myers Collection at Eton College; how this led to the attribution of two anonymous mummy masks in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and what those masks are now able to tell us about the burial and its funerary papyrus.

Wedesday, March 16, 2011

“Fashion in Ancient Egypt: Clothing, Cosmetics, Coiffures” —  A Walk Through the Egyptian Galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dr. Phyllis Saretta, Education Staff Lecturer/Researcher —  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Location: Alston & Bird, LLP
90 Park Ave, 15th Floor Lecture Room
New York (between 39th and 40th Streets)
(Note:  Photo ID Required to enter Building)

ABSTRACT:  Cloth and garments in ancient Egypt were considered to be one of the most important components of a person’s life. Clothing was not only functional, but was symbolic of a person’s social position. Cloth was highly valued and appeared as a major feature in the list of tomb offerings. Cosmetics, jewelry and other accoutrements were not only ornamental, but were believed to have magical properties attached to them as well.

This talk examines transitions in ancient Egyptian fashion from the severe to the frivolous. Objects and images include shirts, dresses, sandals, mirrors, kohl tubes, razors, jewelry, wigs, and hair ornaments from the collection of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum, and beyond.

Yuny and His 
Wife, Renenutet, 
19th Dynasty
Metropolitan Museum
of Art 

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:  Phyllis Saretta received her Ph.D. from New York University in Egyptology and Ancient Near East Archaeology and Languages in 1997. Dr. Saretta was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Dept. of Egyptian Art at The Metropolitan Museum in 1994-95, where she completed research for her dissertation entitled, “Egyptian Perceptions of West Semites in Art and Literature during the Middle Kingdom: An Archaeological, Art Historical and Textual Survey,” which focused on cultural and social interconnections between Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Levant.

She has taught courses on Egypt and Mesopotamia as part-time faculty member of the New School University and is currently on staff in the Education Department of the Metropolitan Museum, where she lectures extensively.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ARCE/ISAW 

“Belgians at Bersha – Recent fieldwork in the Old Kingdom necropolis and the intact tomb of Henu”

Marleen De Meyer, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Foundation – Flanders, Dayr al-Barsha Project, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Location: ISAW, 15 East 84th Street, New York, New York

ABSTRACT: Since 2002 Leuven University (Belgium) has been conducting excavations at the site of Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt. This place was used as a necropolis by the inhabitants of the nearby provincial capital Hermopolis throughout most of ancient Egyptian history. Dayr al-Barsha is most famous for its Middle Kingdom nomarchs’ tombs, including the well-preserved tomb of governor Djehutihotep, but the site also contains a large Old Kingdom rock necropolis. This lecture will focus on the different types of Old Kingdom burials that are encountered here, and in particular on a number of tombs that preserve a restoration inscription dating to the late First Intermediate Period. What this restoration consisted of, became clear when the intact burial of Henu was found, an administrator serving under a governor named Djehutinakht at the end of the First Intermediate Period. This burial contained not only the perfectly preserved coffin and mummy of the deceased, but also a number of wooden tomb models portraying scenes of daily life in Ancient Egypt. 

Marleen De Meyer copying text on the coffin of Henu

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Marleen De Meyer is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders and co-field director of the excavations of Leuven University at Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt. She investigates provincial administration in the 15th and 16th Upper Egyptian nomes based on a number of necropoleis dating from the late Old Kingdom to the First Intermediate Period. Part of this postdoctoral fellowship she spends as a visiting research scholar at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She received her PhD from Leuven University in Belgium in 2008, with a dissertation about the rock tombs of the late Old Kingdom at that site, where she has been excavating since 2002. 

Prior to her work at Dayr al-Barsha, she spent several seasons in Egypt between 1997 and 2001, copying reliefs in the Roman period temple of Shenhur, some 20 km north of Luxor. This resulted in the publication of the inscriptions of the interior of the temple that appeared in 2003. In 2010 a final field campaign to this temple was undertaken to finish the recording of the inscriptions, and the publication of the outer walls of this temple is underway.

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