Birmingham Egyptology Archive:

Forum summary available: Cryptography

A summary of the last Forum by Dr Nicki Adderley is now available, with bibliography:

The group discussed the evidence for and potential reasons behind ‘cryptographic’ writings in Egypt.


The next session will be on Friday 9th December. We have had a change of topic from the original schedule, and the presentation and discussion will now be on bees and beeswax, led by Zara Shoosmith. All are welcome.

Forum report available: games and board games

The Forum sessions are not all fun and games – we aim to engage in enlightening and analytical discussion. However, the atmosphere of the Forum is intended to remain informal, and what better way to do so than to discuss games and board games in Egypt and further afield?


The Forum report summarising the discussion can now be found on our website: (it will be moved to ‘Previous Sessions’ section in a few weeks’ time).
We even managed to fit in a couple of rounds of Senet, albeit with a less beautiful board and gaming pieces than some which have been discovered!

Forum members playing Senet

Objects Come to Life: new Virtual Museum Exhibition

On Friday 28th October, the exhibition ‘Objects Come to Life’ officially opened in the Orchard Learning Resource Centre, Selly Oak. The exhibition of objects from the Eton Myers Collection, on loan to the University of Birmingham from Eton College, was curated by PG curator Stephanie Boonstra, with the participation of students, staff and alumni. The exhibition will be available to view until late Summer 2017 – please contact Stephanie at if you are interested in a viewing (must be arranged in advance).

The physical exhibits are accompanied by a ‘Virtual Exhibition’, which can be found on our website alongside previous exhibitions:
Thanks go to all contributors for their work in highlighting this delightful, yet fairly unknown, collection.


Forum: Time and kingship – summary available

What is time? This was the question posed to Birmingham Egyptology members at the start of the Forum session on the 14th October. Steven Gregory presented some of his current research into Dt and nHH time and its relationship to kingship. The presentation and the ensuing discussion were complex and thought-provoking, and at times rather difficult to express in words. Nevertheless, some words offering a brief introduction to the research presented is now available:



Forum report available: Gender and sexuality

The Forum report on last week’s session is available now at

The theme was very broad and there was much we could not cover. If you would like to see another session looking at a particular aspect of gender and sexuality in Egypt in more detail, or if you have another idea for a Forum session, please contact us (

Exhibition review: ‘Beyond Beauty’ at Two Temple Place

‘Beyond Beauty’ is a temporary exhibition at Two Temple Place, London, closing on 24th April 2016, which brings together objects from seven regional collections from the UK. It explores the concept of beauty in ancient Egypt and its importance for both life and death.

To read the review of the exhibition by Eleanor Simmance, please click here (PDF).


Spring term schedule available

A list of events currently scheduled for Spring 2016 is now available. These include three presentations by external and internal researchers and our Third Annual Symposium, so there is much to look forward to.

All are welcome!


A PDF of the schedule can be downloaded here.

Symposium registration now open!

Registration for the Third Annual Birmingham Egyptology Symposium, ‘Ancient Egypt: Looking Out, Looking In’ is now open.

This free one-day event on Friday 19th February 2016  at the University of Birmingham will comprise 12 papers and 4 posters. Lunch, refreshments and wine reception will be included.

Space is limited so please email the organisers at to book your place soon!

Forum report available: crowns and royal iconography

On Friday 19th June, Prof. Katja Goebs presented some of her recent research on Egyptian crowns. The report is now available on the ‘Last Session‘ page of the Forum tab. This thought-provoking Forum showed how interconnected various strands of Egyptian belief could be, but also highlighted similarities in various cultures (ancient and modern) and their languages.

Amongst the more humorous of parts of the session was a short video Prof. Goebs played of ostriches dancing and twirling, a strange behavioural trait often seen in the morning – many such videos can be found on the internet. This was likely observed by ancient Egyptians, perhaps informing some of their beliefs, and, as Prof Goebs pointed out, it is also reminiscent of a segment in Walt Disney’s much more modern Fantasia (1940) with ostrich ballet dancers!

During the session, attendees were shown how we might ‘read’ crowns. In doing so, Prof. Goebs demonstrated the important contribution of each feature of a headdress as more than just decoration, and also emphasised the Egyptian tendency to prioritise the information presented over realism; where these crowns are sometimes too elaborate to have been worn (or even to have been real crowns), they could be represented being worn in art. Through that medium they could serve as sophisticated purveyors of information with various layers of symbolism.

A bit of Birmingham in the Wirral? Eleanor Simmance at the Wirral Ancient Egypt Society

On Monday 9th March I was invited to talk on ancient Egyptian music for the Wirral Ancient Egypt Society (WAES). This group, formed in 2001, began, like Birmingham Egyptology, for like-minded students to come together and share their research. They now hold monthly talks for eleven months of the year as well as various trips and museum visits. Of course, the University of Liverpool, the World Museum and the Garstang Museum have important links to Egyptology and hold significant Egyptological collections, although the Wirral itself has a very different history – WAES is based very close to Port Sunlight, the home of Sunlight soap produced by Lever Brothers, the latter of which formed part of Unilever. I had the pleasure of being shown Port Sunlight and the Lady Lever Art Gallery (which has a small number of Egyptian objects) by the WAES secretary Jacky Finch. Port Sunlight is very reminiscent of Birmingham’s Bournville in its purpose and feel – both were built to house those who worked in the nearby factory and to provide decent living conditions.


One of the Lever brothers, William Hesketh Lever, 1st viscount Leverhulme, built the Lady Lever Art Gallery and was not only a collector of art (mainly British) but also funded two of John Garstang’s Liverpool University excavations in Egypt and thus received some of the finds in return. Therefore, even though there appeared to be very little to link the Wirral to Egypt other than through its proximity to Liverpool, a little more digging reveals a greater connection, and it was a pleasure to learn more about it in my brief visit.

In my talk I covered the evidence for music and suggestions for the ways in which we can start to recreate it, my title ‘Words, gestures, strings and timbres’ providing the basis for these suggestions. Pete Stephens has written up a report which appears in their most recent newsletter. The relevant extract can be found here: WAES newsletter


I would like to thank WAES for inviting me to speak, for their very warm welcome and for the inquisitive audience with all their questions. I also managed to fit in a visit to the World Museum in Liverpool, where there is a small Egyptian harp on display, complete with pegs. The vast majority of ancient harps had fixed pegs onto which the strings were tied, unlike modern stringed instruments whose pegs can be turned to adjust the tension in the strings. Nevertheless, such features serve to underline the similarities between ancient and modern instruments and music, and it is those similarities which can help us attempt to reconstruct ancient music, particularly through ethnomusicological research.

Information about WAES can be found on the website,


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