Monday, 08 March 2021

Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society

WHILE no face-to-face lectures are possible, the Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society is providing five extra lectures in addition to the usual monthly online programme.

The first of these extra lectures on October 24 was given by Dr Steve Harvey, speaking from America.

He focused on how humour in Egyptian tombs was often slipped into traditional scenes such as making wine, beer and bread. These private, not royal, tomb images are very detailed and useful for Egyptologists researching such processes.

But the hieroglyphs around them provide a sometimes irreverent commentary by the workers.

So drunken girls are encouraged to have more to drink, men grinding grain comment that they are grinding not for the master but for their own consumption, workmen praise the quality of their own work against that of team-mates.

People are shown drowsing on the job, taking a break for refreshments, dropping tools on colleagues’ heads below and even fighting each other.

This humour was aimed to make those who came to make offerings to the ka (soul) of the deceased pause and enjoy the visual humour, or read the captions (if they could) and thus stay longer in the public areas of the tomb.

There is another Zoom lecture on Saturday, November 14 when Ian Trumble will speak on “Bolton’s Egypt: the making of a museum”.

In 1884, Bolton opened its first museum, The Chadwick, named after its principle benefactor.

Although founded as a natural history museum, it wasn’t long before it housed collections of art, social history, world cultures and, not least of all, Egyptology.

The collections grew thanks to the enthusiasm of Annie Barlow, a local mill owner’s daughter, who worked with the Egypt Exploration Society to bring Egypt to Bolton.

From mummies to jewellery and statues to temple columns, the collections span several thousand years of history.

More than 130 years later, Bolton now has one of the largest and best collections of Ancient Egyptian artefacts in the UK, which are newly displayed in Bolton’s Egypt.

Non-members can register for any of the forthcoming Zoom events a few days before the event via our website,

Francesca Jones

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