Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Student Volunteer Paulína Šútorová

Paulína Šútorová: My experience at the Egypt Centre

Paulína Šútorová has completed her BA and MA degrees in Egyptology at the Department of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University and is shortly to undertake a PhD.

“My love and fascination for the history of Ancient Egypt started at an early age, when during my holiday in Egypt I had the chance to see the most famous ancient treasures, which the country has to offer. By the time I graduated from high school, the chance to study Egyptology at university became the only logical solution to satisfy my growing passion for this subject, and that is how I ended up here at Swansea University.

            During my undergraduate studies in Egyptology I realised, that one thing is to study this subject in theory and another is to put all your knowledge into practice. For that reason, in my second year, I decided to join the Egypt Centre as a volunteer on the 8th October 2014. From then on I mostly volunteered during Wednesdays and when my university duties allowed me to spend more time in the museum, I was always happy to come in whenever it was possible. From the two galleries, the House of Death became my home, my shelter, my “House of fun” (©Yuval), where I met many nice and sweet people both local and international. As I like to say, I found my second family here, who broadened my knowledge of Ancient Egypt even more not only by introducing me to the objects of both galleries, but also by training me in the three major activities of the Egypt Centre – the mummification, senet and material board.

            For more than three following years, I worked as a Gallery assistant. My main job was to greet visitors and to show them around the galleries. Furthermore, I assisted our Educational Leaders, mainly the Wonderful Roger Jones, whom I shadowed when he taught schools various lessons about Egypt. His hilarious jokes such as “Gudja, gudja” (Roger’s sacred words, which according to him should be recited by the sem-priest during the Opening of the mouth ritual) became popular and I also started to use these jokes now myself, when I demonstrate the activities. Together we started to be recognised as the “Dream team”.

            After finishing my Masters, I decided to apply for a PhD course here also due to the availability of the Egypt Centre, which has been my constant motivation to improve my academic knowledge and museum skills. Until my degree starts in October, I have taken up many opportunities, which the museum offered me in order to fill my free time. For example, gaining so many new contacts at the Egypt Centre brought me the opportunity to teach senior volunteers some basic hieroglyphs. Our weekly lessons made me practice my teaching skills and I am eternally proud and grateful to my amazing students for their serious on-going interest in my classes and for doing their homework without further comments. I also made a decision to catch up all the museum training and activities, which I have not managed before due to my university responsibilities. So far I have become a mentor for couple of new volunteers, where I have done their induction and showed them around the museum. Moreover, I have participated in creating entertaining and useful activities for the upcoming work placements of 14–15 year olds.  I also undertook several trainings of the activities, which are done in the shared area and in the House of Life, working with school groups who have visited the museum. I can honestly claim that I cannot wait what the Egypt Centre has in store for me next.”

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Pig fat in Early Dynastic Egypt?

Here is a grotty (sorry) picture of one of our Early Dynastic pots (AB98). It came to us from Aberystwyth University in 1997, is 45.5cm high and is oozing 'oil'. Recently the oil has been analysed by Andrew Hardy and Paul Finch. It was found to contain non-ruminant (i.e. not cow or sheep/goat) animal fat, probably pig fat. There were also traces of grasses which possibly scented the oil.

We do not know where this vessel came from, though it is likely to have come from a tomb.

Apparently Early Dynastic (3100-2686 BC) Egyptian royal courts had departments which dealt with the raising of pigs and a separate department for rendering cow fat (Wilkinson 1999, 110). Oil was used in food but also for anointing and for cosmetics. Many hundreds of such jars have been found in the tombs of the elite.

The results have been published in Pharmaceutical Historian 47/1 2017.

Wilkinson, T.A.H., 1999. Early Dynastic Egypt. London and New York.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Photography and Egyptology

On Friday 18th December the Egypt Centre opened its cases to photographers. Or rather, we took objects off display and invited people to come and photograph them. We know have an exhibition of some of the resultant work which is on display in the Taliesin bar area.

The point of this was to see if photographers would view our artefacts any differently than Egyptologists might. Well you can decide for yourself.

The Exhibition will run in the Taliesin from 4th Feb—10th March before touring to the following destinations:
The Grand Theatre from Swansea 21st March         
Carmarthen Museum from 11th April   

Cynon Valley Museum from 25th May

Here are just a couple to wet your appetite (for the Egyptologists you can click on the accession numbers to find a bit more about the objects). The top is W379 and the bottom, W307.