To support the Egypt Centre, please click the button below

Monday, 28 June 2021

The Conservation of an Egyptian “Whistle”

The blog post for this week is written by Alice Law, who has just completed her first year studying MSc Conservation Practice at Cardiff University. Alice graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in History of Art in 2017, and spent several years working in a Lower School before coming to Cardiff last year.

In October 2020, wide-eyed and inexperienced in the world of conservation, I began my Masters degree in the middle of a pandemic. At Cardiff University, the MSc in Conservation Practice is a conversion course, meaning that people from many different walks of life and levels of experience can take it. A lot of us enter the degree with little or no experience of conservation. I think everyone this year can say that studying for a degree with COVID restrictions has been a challenge, but we were lucky to be able to have some in-person teaching in the lab. As part of the course, we have the privilege of being able to work on real objects from museums, and my very first assigned object was an Egyptian “whistle” (W247), broken into three pieces (fig. 1). I have been fascinated by Ancient Egypt for as long as I can remember, so the chance to work on an Egyptian piece was thrilling.

Fig. 1: Pre-treatment photograph, October 2020.

My excitement only grew when I first saw the whistle, after tentatively removing the sheet of foam, beneath the lid of the unassuming little storage box sat in front of me on the desk (fig. 2). The three pieces each lay cradled in their own nest of tissue paper, consisting of an internal copper tube, with a mouthpiece at one end, and blue (lapis lazuli) and white (most likely ivory) alternating rings along what would be its length. I was especially taken aback by the vibrancy of colour on the whistle—I had not known what to expect, but I was not expecting this. I had never seen anything like it. Excitement soon became mingled with the worry that probably every conservator feels at some point, as the monumental task of figuring out how to stick the three pieces back together now loomed ahead.

Fig. 2: The three pieces of the whistle in October 2020.

The first part of any conservation project is the initial observation of an object. Before applying any kind of treatment, you need to have an understanding of the object: what it is (or what could it be), what is it made from, how could it have been made, and what contextual significance might it have? However, because of the nature of the conservation field, simple answers—or any answers at all—are not always available, the information that you can gather comes together to form a complex picture of the object, with factors that need to be balanced with one another to find a navigable route through the process of treatment. A few things stood out. There was the obvious need to reattach the three pieces back into one object. Most of the rings looked stable, as did the mouthpiece, and I wanted to establish if the central tube was stable or if it was corroding. There were also several areas with old adhesives, most likely from previous repairs—some yellowing globules, and some grey masses in the centre of one of the tubes, which may need to be removed.

After research into copper corrosion (fig. 3), I was able to say that the corrosion was indeed stable and started to focus my attention on how the pieces could be reattached. The problem was that the tube was so fragile. In some areas, it was in pieces, being held in place by the previous repairs. Other matters to contend with were that the joints did not line up cleanly, and using an adhesive on such as small surface area as the rim of the tube would most probably not hold the whistle together for very long, and may even break the tube further. It became obvious early in the process that a successful join would also involve internal support. The two main options were using a dowel or a filler, but after talking my ideas through in the Lab, I eventually decided on using an adhesive as a filler rather than a solid dowel, which could damage the inside of the tube.

Fig. 3: Microscope image of the top piece of the whistle. A red cuprite (cuprous oxide) layer against the metal, topped with a green malachite (copper (II) carbonate) layer commonly appear on copper objects, and can even help to prevent further corrosion. In these cases, removing it may cause more harm than good.


The next step in treatment was to decide on what the adhesive and filler would be. After more research and some tests in the labs (fig. 4), I decided on Paraloid B-72 and microballoons. B-72 is an acrylic polymer that has displayed good aging properties. Another big factor in its favour was that it remains soluble in acetone, so can be removed if necessary, such as if the fill ever breaks. Similarly, microballoons are tiny glass bubbles, which, when mixed with an adhesive, add volume to it. I tested a handful of possible fillers, including powdered slate, talc, and marble dust, but microballoons were the best option. They mix to a smooth consistency with the B-72, and produce a light filler, meaning that unnecessary weight is not added to the fragile object. If something happens to the join, it will hopefully be the adhesive that breaks rather than the metal tube, which is always what you want an adhesive to do.

Figure 4: Samples of test fillers. 40% Paraloid B-72 in acetone and fillers were mixed together and shaped into little rods to mimic the rough size and shape of the fills that were needed.

After a little readjustment of a small metal fragment on one of the pieces, the exciting, yet nerve-racking day soon arrived to add the first fill to the whistle. As carefully as I could, I dampened the B-72/microballoon mixture and packed it down into the tube of the top and middle whistle pieces until there were little pieces of filler emerging from each section (fig. 5). With slightly shaking hands, I pressed the pieces together to form a join. The join would need a little adjusting in the following weeks, but it was an important, and thrilling, step forward in the treatment.

Fig. 5: Filling and preparing to reattach the top and middle pieces.


The third piece was reattached in the same way a couple of weeks later, and there sat a single whistle curing in the sand tray (fig. 6). After months of work, it felt like a massive achievement, but there was still a lot of work to do. The next job was to remove some of the old adhesives. I was the second person to work on the whistle at Cardiff, and much of the previous adhesive had already been removed from its surface. Now that the whistle was back together, I could remove some of the remaining pieces.

Fig. 6: The reattached whistle.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) is a useful analytical tool that conservators can use to identify substances. It works by passing infrared radiation through a sample, and causing chemical bonds within the structure to vibrate in different ways, thus producing a spectrum with peaks denoting certain chemical bonds. The analysis carried out in the previous year had revealed that the yellowing adhesive was polyvinyl acetate/polyvinyl chloride, which meant that I was able to use acetone and a cotton swab to carefully remove the remaining pieces on the object. I had also carried out my own analysis on the mysterious grey substance inside the tube. FTIR results are most effective at identifying single substances, and are not as reliable with mixtures, but there were areas in the spectrum that indicated a proteinaceous substance—gelatin/collagen, suggesting that animal glue was included, with another substance—perhaps plant gum or plaster of Paris, which was more difficult to identify for someone new to the process. With this information, I decided to leave the substance inside the tube, because there was a far greater risk of its removal damaging the whistle, than leaving it where it was.

Once the adhesive had been removed, I turned my attention to inpainting the very obviously white fills (fig. 7). I used acrylic paint and a wide range of colours to get as close a match as I could to the surrounding metal. It is amazing how many colours go into a match—I ended up using raw umber, yellow ochre, venetian red, turquoise, black, and white to match the uneven, undulating tone of the metal and its corrosion. Once finished, it is my hope that if casually walking past it on display, the fill is invisible, and may only be subtly visible if you know where to look for it.

Fig. 7: The largest fill in the process of being painted.

By this point, the conservation process was nearly complete, aside from some final cleaning of the rings and the consolidation of the black, bituminous substance on the tube near the mouthpiece, which had started becoming detached during treatment. I kept the samples that had detached for use in future analysis, and consolidated the remaining substance on the tube with Paraloid B-67 (another acrylic polymer with good aging and yellowing properties) to prevent it from being lost over time. The final task was to reattach the label (on acid free paper) inside the bottom tube and then the treatment was complete (fig. 8)!

Fig. 8: Post-Treatment Photography, May 2021

It was a certainly a challenging object to work on as my first ever conservation project, but I hope I did it justice. The whistle itself is a mysterious object—its history before its time in the MacGregor Collection is unknown (for more, see the earlier
blog post), and its use unclear—but it was a privilege to be able to work on such a fantastic piece, to add another layer to its enigmatic history, and to be part of allowing future visitors to see and enjoy what it has to offer.


Canadian Conservation Institute. 2007. Recognizing Active Corrosion – Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes 9/1 - Available at: [Accessed: 17 November 2020].

Down, J. 2014. ‘The evaluation of selected poly(vinyl acetate) and acrylic adhesives: A final research             update’, Studies in Conservation 60(1), pp. 33–54.

Scott, D. 2002. Copper and Bronze in Art. Los Angeles: Getty Publications.

Wolfe, J. and O’Connor, T. 2005. ‘Properties of fillers in putties based on Acryloid B-72’, in Proceedings of the Objects Specialty Group Session, June 11–12, 2005, 33rd Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, pp. 91–117.

Young, C. et al. 2002. ‘The mechanical behaviour of adhesives and fillers for re-joining panel paintings’, in National Gallery Technical Bulletin 23. London: Yale University Press,   pp. 83–96.

Monday, 21 June 2021

A Look at the Political Legacy of Amarna

The blog post for this week has been written by Carlein Boers, a political scientist and advisor on international (military) relations from the Netherlands. After watching numerous reruns of the animated classic ‘Asterix and Cleopatra’ from the age of five and Elizabeth Taylor’s ‘Cleopatra’, she developed a life-long interest in ancient history and the Middle East. In the Netherlands, she has previously taken courses on the Amarna era with Egyptologist Huub Pragt and the ‘Huis van Horus’ Association. Carlein is very grateful to Dr. Ken Griffin and Sam Powell of the Egypt Centre, Dr. Chris Naunton, and the British Museum for hosting online lectures and courses during the Corona-lockdown and hopes they will continue to do this for international enthusiasts once we are past the Pandemic.


All things Amarna

They might not immediately recognise it in relation to Akhenaten’s reign at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty, they might not even associate it with the Amarna Period, but mention Ancient Egypt and most likely people will name an example connected to this peculiar era. Whether it is Queen Nefertiti’s bust, King Tutankhamun’s golden treasure, Nicholas Reeves’ search for the secret tomb of Nefertiti, Akhenaten’s assumed monotheism, or the long waiting lines for the recent Tutankhamun exhibition (fig. 1) in London and Paris, Amarna’s legacy is more alive than ever, despite attempts by Akhenaten’s successors to erase his memory and physical remnants from the face of history.

Akhenaten’s political legacy can easily be overlooked amongst all of this splendour, but is fascinating nonetheless. In this blog post, I am going to have a look at Akhenaten’s political changes, the position of the Great Royal Wife, Akhenaten’s mystery successor Smenkhkare, and Amarna’s overall political legacy.

Fig. 1: Statue from the tom of Tutankhamun (photo by Carlein Boers)

Times of political upheaval

The Amarna era spans around thirty years in ancient Egyptian history; a time of political upheaval that the following pharaohs did their upmost to erase from all records, including the King’s Lists. What do I mean by times of political upheaval in  Amarna? It certainly goes beyond transforming Egypt’s religion into an Aten sun-cult. Most Egyptologists now agree that political and societal changes started under Amenhotep III; a wealthy and ambitious man who ruled Egypt for nearly forty years and who started to develop a religious ideological interest in the old solar-cults during his sunset years. He subsequently reached the point where he started to identify himself as the sun god Aten, calling himself ‘Egypt’s Dazzling Sun’. It looks as though at some point during his long reign, Amenhotep III started to feel all-powerful and confident enough, to start reducing the priests’ influence.

At a certain point after the death of his heir-apparent Thutmose, Amenhotep III installed his young son Amenhotep IV as co-regent, possibly giving his son a taste of life as a living sun god. There are a great number of uncertainties of the length and nature of the co-regency, however it is clear that at a certain moment and presumably after his death, Amenhotep III was proclaimed as Aten-the-Father. What happens next in Years 3–5 of Amenhotep IV’s reign is that he changes his name into Akhenaten, adds the name Neferneferuaten as a prefix to the name of his wife Nefertiti as he declares her his Great Royal Wife, introduces a new art-form (in the early years there are statues of both Akhenaten and Nefertiti looking eerily similar with both portrayed with regal and androgynous attributes) (fig. 2). He removes all references to Amun throughout his kingdom, makes the (deceased) Aten(-the-Father) the centre of all worship, and most notably makes a clean break with the Amun-centred power elite by leaving Thebes and setting up court in his new city Akhetaten (modern day Tell el-Amarna). These are the signs of an autocrat making sure that he is in full control of all aspects that give power by side-lining all others from access to political power.

Fig. 2: Colossal statue depicting either Akhenaten or Nefertiti

A number of aspects stand out in the following years. One is the replacement of the worshipping of the traditional gods with a cult-like veneration of the royal family whose images are found all over Amarna where one would normally find images of the old gods. The (Amun) priests’ role and influence are diminished with Akhenaten and later Nefertiti being the sole intermediates for the worship of the Aten; they accept offerings and are the only ones to sacrifice to the Aten. Another exception to the rule relates to the Queen-mother Tiye (fig. 3). Instead of being sent away to a widows’ retreat, there is evidence of her residing in Amarna, conducting foreign politics in her own right, as we have letters addressed to her instead of her son, the king.

Fig. 3: Statuette of Tiye, Neues Museum Berlin (photo by Carlein Boers) 

Lastly, there is an absence of popular dissent and/or revolt against these societal and political changes. This could indicate the agreement of the people with the new rule, yet there exists more than enough evidence that following Akhenaten’s death that his successors went above and beyond to erase the Akhenaten-era from history by elaborate acts of Damnatio Memoriae. To me, this is a strong indication that people under Akhenaten’s rule must have lived in all-consuming fear of a terrifying dictator-King. The newly discovered ‘Golden City’ will hopefully shed some light on what real sentiments were among the (non-elite) population of Egypt.


Not your average Great Royal Wife

In my view, one of the remarkable political changes of Akhenaten is the elevation of the power status of his Great Royal Wife Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, incomparable to any  queen before her. In depictions of the royal couple, she can be seen portrayed at the same height as the pharaoh. She can also be seen acting as a pharaoh in her own right; for example, smiting an enemy, making independent offerings to the Aten, or shown in hunting/defeating Seth reminiscent poses (if she is indeed the original owner of several statues of Tutankhamun’s tomb inventory, which we now believe were usurped from the tomb of Nefertiti) (fig. 4). Other remarkable images are those of Akhenaten and Nefertiti overlapping representations and the appearance of androgynous images and statues of the pair showing both male and female physical characteristics.

Fig. 4: Statue from the tomb of Tutankhamun (photo by Carlein Boers)

Around Year 12 we see a number of new events; Egyptologists do not agree on what caused them. We see the death of several members of the inner royal family, the (apparent) disappearance of Nefertiti from monuments and written references, a military defeat in Syria, an indication of a natural disaster such as a pandemic, and a solar eclipse and/or an earthquake. What we also see is Akhenaten promoting at least one of his daughters (Meritaten) as the next Great Royal Wife—which might also indicate the death or disgrace of Nefertiti—the great Durbar-tribute, and an increase of zealous-religious activities by the Pharaoh who fears his upcoming death and wants to consolidate his power and legacy for the next generation.


Akhenaton’s mystery succession

What follows next in Akhenaten’s sunset years is shrouded in mystery. Firstly, a recent discovery by Dr Athena van der Perre includes Nefertiti being mentioned in a Year 16 text, showing that in contrast to the longstanding belief of her downfall, Nefertiti is still alive and in favour in Years 12–16. There is also the appearance of two new Kings; an individual called Ankhkheperure-Neferneferuaten succeeded by an individual called Smenkhkare who started a new royal year calculation (the last known mention of Smenkhkare is in Royal Year 3, indicating a new royal era). Remarkably, Smenkhkare’s name exists in a male and female written form, whilst Neferneferuaten is quite similar to a name previously used by Nefertiti. Both kings also share Meritaten with Akhenaten as Great Royal Wife, and there are indications that Smenkhkare also took another royal daughter (Ankhesenpaaten) as his Great Royal Wife as shown on a portrayal now in the Berlin Museum (fig. 5). Both individuals could either be close male relations to Akhenaten as some believe. Egyptologists such as Dr. Nicholas Reeves believes that either one of these kings might in fact be Nefertiti under a new name. Reeves hopes to find proof of this theory by finding the tomb of Nefertiti; Zahi Hawass hopes to disprove the theory by finding her tomb first.

Fig. 5: The stroll in the garden tablet, Neues Museum Berlin (photo by Carlein Boers)

What I believe is that if we follow the pattern of dictators clinging on to power, and who are in the hope of starting their own dynasty for a ‘glorious new golden eternal age’, it is quite possible that in the absence of an undisputed male heir, Akhenaten was seeking ways to consolidate his power in the afterlife by securing his legacy through the female line of his family. We notice in images that Akhenaten (fig. 6) and (supposedly) Nefertiti are looking more similar and stylised as two male kings, looking identical in physical and power characteristics, sometimes even overlapping each other’s image in representations. Akhenaten is Nefertiti, Nefertiti is Akhenaten, both are the physical representation of Aten in both life and the afterlife.

This would explain the need for a new Great Royal Wife to perform the religious and political duties as Nefertiti was given the status of pharaoh; perhaps grooming their daughters to be the female part of a living Aten-Pharaoh. Could it be possible that these changes were again paired with new names; Ankhkheperure-Neferneferuaten as Nefertiti was elevated to the status of pharaoh, and a new name when they both became one ruler living in symbiosis. Could the name Smenkhkare be the name of the morphed-into-one King Akhenaten-Nefertiti? Were they making their case by the argument of the Aten having both male and female aspects, as they already seemed to indicated with the androgynous statues at the start of their rule? It is an interesting thought to entertain, yet unless uncontested physical proof is found to the very least in the form of the tomb and mummy of Nefertiti, these are just the musings of a Dutch political scientist. It is just one example of the great heap of possible theories about Akhenaten’s succession.

Fig. 6: Bust of Akhenaten in the Louvre, Paris (photo by Carlein Boers)

To make sense of it all

In hindsight, I see Akhenaten as a typical dictator with a god-complex, clinging onto power in order to consolidate his power, legacy, afterlife, and future for his own family. Ultimately failing, his demise gives rise to the golden age of the Ramesside kings. This is certainly not unlike other moments we have seen happen throughout history before the fall of a great dynasty followed by the rise of a new ‘golden age’; Julius Caesar with the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Augustan Empire, Henry Tudor VIII before the Elizabethan Golden Age; one can even argue that the fall of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union gave rise to the US, EU, and China.

To me, the most remarkable innovative aspect of the Amarna era is not its supposed monotheism, its beautiful art, nor the existence of the new capital and religious centre Akhetaten/Amarna; it is the way they elevated the royal women to independent forces of power in symbiosis with the male pharaoh. To me, the events that stand out in the Amarna era are the powerful role of Queen-mother Tiye who had her own diplomatic correspondence, the power-attributes of Nefertiti in statues and depictions and the fact that after the death of Tutankhamun, his queen and Akhenaten’s daughter Ankhesenpaaten/Ankhesenamun feels powerful enough in her own right to propose a Hittite prince to become her husband as she ‘will not take a servant as her husband and king’ (known as the Prince Zannanza-affair). After Amarna, it would take dynasties to come before the female part of the ruling royal family were given such a political rule. Perhaps once Nicholas Reeves proves his theory and finds Nefertiti’s tomb, we will finally have more information and answers to the questions about what really happened during this remarkable political and societal era in Ancient Egypt’s history.


The author would like to thank Huub Pragt for his critical reading of a draft version of this blog post and the following delightful conversation. Huub is a strong believer in Nicholas Reeves’ theory that Smenkhkare is Nefertiti.


Cooney, Kara, 2018, When women ruled the world: six queens of Egypt. Washington D.C.: National Geographic

Pragt, Huub, 2019, Egypte Ontraadseld - Mysteriën uit de oudheid onder de loep, Zutphen: Uitgeversmaatschappij Walburg Pers.

Reeves, Nicholas 1999. The royal family. In Freed, Rita E., Yvonne Markowitz, and Sue H. D’Auria (eds), Pharaohs of the sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, 81–95. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, in association with Bulfinch Press; Little, Brown.

Seyfried, Friederike (ed.) 2012. In the light of Amarna: 100 years of the Nefertiti discovery. Petersberg: Imhof.

Tyldesley, Joyce 2006. Chronicle of the queens of Egypt: from early dynastic times to the death of Cleopatra. London: Thames & Hudson.

Van der Perre, Athena 2014. The Year 16 graffito of Akhenaten in Dayr Abū Ḥinnis: a contribution to the study of the later years of Nefertiti. Journal of Egyptian History 7 (1), 67–108.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Amarna Religion at the Egypt Centre

The blog post for this week has been written by Sam Powell, an Egypt Centre volunteer and regular contributor.

One of the aspects of the Egypt Centre online courses I really enjoy is the inclusion of Egypt Centre objects to illustrate the topic. I am of course fairly biased towards the Egypt Centre objects as a volunteer who has been lucky enough to work closely with the collection doing condition checks on objects and helping Ken to prepare the artefacts for object handling sessions prior to the lockdown. I also created (and continue to work on) the Egypt Centre Online Collection (affectionately known as ‘Abaset’), which involves direct engagement with this amazing group of material. 

In this week’s lecture focusing on religion, Ken included some very beautiful objects housed in the Egypt Centre collection. While it is often assumed that the Aten was the only deity worshipped during the Amarna Period, this is not entirely accurate. In addition to the Aten, household and apotropaic deities such as Bes and Taweret may still have been invoked in a protective capacity. I have included links to these objects in the Online Collection so you can find out more about them if you wish, or you can view these objects as a trail by following the link here. 

Fig. 1: W9

W9 (fig. 1)

This broad collar is one of four from the collection of Lady Berens, and is one of the most popular objects from the Egypt Centre. It is suggested that these collars were found on the bodies of the Amarna princesses (although this cannot be proven). In the context of religion at Amarna, the inclusion of a central pendant of the deity Beset, along with other goddesses included in the pendant composition, would indicate that the worship of additional deities other than the Aten was also practised. If it doesn’t belong to the royal princesses, then definitely someone of a very high status given the quality and craftsmanship of these collars.

Fig. 2: W242

W242 (fig. 2)

This sandstone fragment is from a household stela and includes the names, titles, and epithets of the Aten. It is possible that W242 fits together with a larger fragment of a stela in Berlin (ÄM 14511), which shows Akhenaten and Nefertiti worshipping the Aten. This piece can be seen to indicate that Akhenaten and Nefertiti were worshipped as intermediaries between the residents of Amarna and the Aten, as is the typical assumption made regarding religion at Amarna.

Fig. 3: AB70

(fig. 3)

When complete, this item would have been a double cartouche pendant. Only the prenomen (Neferkheperure-waenre) survives, but the second cartouche would have likely included Akhenaten’s name also. This object apparently comes from Abydos, showing the reach of Akhenaten beyond Amarna itself. It is often easy to forget that Egypt continued to exist outside of the city of Amarna at this time, and so this object was a helpful reminder.

Fig. 4: LIH2

(fig. 4)

This faience object was excavated by the Egypt Exploration society during the 1936–7 season at Amarna. It shows an early example of the name of the Aten on one side, and the name of Akhenaten on another. This early form of the name of the Aten—‘The Living Ra high in the two horizons, in his name of Shu who is in Aten’—still includes the god Shu within it. This perhaps suggests a more fluid transition to monotheism than is often presented.

Fig. 5: W961p

(fig. 5)

This beautiful blue amulet was donated to the collection in 1973 by Cyril Aldred and shows the deity Bes in profile playing a tambor or drum. Bes seems to have remained very popular during the Amarna Period with over 500 images of Bes known from the site of Amarna, often being found in domestic contexts. It is suggested that small amulets could still have been worn fairly discreetly if other deities had been banned during this time in favour of the sole worship of the Aten, but the extent to which such a practice was tolerated or in secret is impossible to ascertain.

Fig. 6: EC671

EC671 (fig. 6)

The evidence of amulets found at Amarna could indicate that perhaps the people of the city were retaining objects from prior to the shift to the worship of the Aten. However, the existence of many pottery moulds for the creation of amulets found at the site indicate that production of Bes amulets continued during this time. It is made of fired clay and the quantity found show that production of objects bearing the old gods did happen at Amarna itself.

This selection of objects provides a very different picture of religion at Amarna than that one would initially assume. The material culture suggests rather than the absolute prohibition of the old gods under the reign of Akhenaten, that personal piety, particularly in the cases of protective ‘household’ deities, was still tolerated (possibly even within the royal household in the case of the broad collar), alongside the worship of the royal family as an intermediary to the Aten.

One aspect of these courses that I have particularly appreciated is that Ken always presents several sides to the argument with impartiality allowing the audience to have all the information possibly to draw their own conclusions. As with most things about the Amarna Period, I don’t believe we will ever know the true extent to which worship of the Aten was enforced, but I’ve really enjoyed playing detective with the Egypt Centre objects as very tantalising clues!                          

Monday, 7 June 2021

Swansea to Host the Sixth EES Congress in 2022

Readers to this blog may have already heard the exciting news that Swansea University will host the sixth Egypt Exploration Society Congress (EESCon 6) in 2022. We were informed last week that Swansea (fig. 1) was chosen by the board of the Society, to whom we are very grateful. The Congress will be organised by colleagues and students from the Egypt Centre, the Department of Classics, Ancient History, and Egyptology, and the Object and Landscape Centred Approaches to the Past (OLCAP) research group in collaboration with the EES. 2022 is a monumental year for Egyptology with centenary events to mark the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun and the bicentenary of Jean-François Champollion announcing his breakthrough with the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone. 2022 is also an exciting year for the ancient subjects at Swansea, with the Classical Association Conference taking place in April next year.

Fig. 1: View of Singleton Campus of Swansea University

The Congress provides a platform for researchers to present their ongoing projects and discoveries to a broad audience of peers and the interested public through brief 20-minute presentations and posters. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the previous Congress (hosted by Durham University in 2020) took place exclusively via Zoom. This helped the Society to engage with different audiences, both academic and non-academic, while also greatly increasing accessibility. Following on from this success, the Congress will be hosted online with hybrid (in-person and online) panels for some of the event. The Egypt Centre has a strong track record for hosting events both in person and online. Since April 2020, we have hosted numerous online events, which have attracted over 15,000 members of the public and academics from close to fifty countries around the world. With EESCon 6, a call for papers will be announced in November 2021 via the EES website and tickets can be reserved from May 2022.

Swansea University is one of the few places in the UK were students can enrol in a Single Honours BA degree, an MA, and a PhD in Egyptology. Therefore, we have a strong group of students, several of whom presented on their research at the last Congress (fig. 2). Swansea University also conducts active fieldwork in Egypt and the Sudan. For example, Dr Christian Knoblauch co-directs the Uronarti Regional Archaeology Project (URAP) in the Sudan, and is the assistant director of the Abydos Middle Cemetery (AMC) project in Egypt.

Fig. 2: Swansea student and Egypt Centre volunteer Sam Powell ready for her presentation

Swansea University has had a strong association with the EES for many years: the editorship of the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology was based at Swansea for fifteen years between 1970 and 1985: first by Professor Gwyn Griffiths (1970–1978) and then by Professor Alan Lloyd (1979–1985). Professor Lloyd also served as president of the EES between 1994–2007 and participated in EES excavations and survey work at North Saqqara and the Teti Pyramid Cemetery in 1972–73 and 1976 respectively. Additionally, around one fifth of the collection in the Egypt Centre collection can be traced back to EES excavations. This includes objects from Abydos, Amarna, Armant, and Sesebi. Given the museum’s strong focus on object-based learning (OBL), we hope to make some of the objects available for handling sessions during the event (fig. 3).

Fig. 3: Object handling session at the Egypt Centre

We look forward to welcoming people to Swansea, whether in person or remotely, in 2022!