A study day of the Egypt Exploration Society and the Palestine Exploration Fund

The Sinai Peninsula forms a geological land bridge between north Africa and western Asia connecting the diverse cultures existing there for thousands of years. However, wider understanding of this area and the interconnections it facilitated are often overlooked. This online study day, organised in partnership by the Egypt Exploration Society and the Palestine Exploration Fund, will consider some of the latest research into the archaeology and history of this unique landscape from its position as a frontier zone, as a melting pot for early Christianity, through to its late antiquity and subsequent historical exploration and mapping.

Funds generated from ticket sales will benefit the work of the EES and the PEF, thank you.

Banner image: Wadi el-Zuweitin and the plateau of Gebel Katharina in the horizon. © Sinai Peninsula Research (SPR).

Download the schedule

Preliminary schedule (UK times)

11:50 Event opens
12:00 Tell El-Kedwa: A Saite Period Fortress on Egypt’s Eastern Frontier (664-525 B.C.), Dr Hesham M. Hussein, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
13:00 Mount Sinai: Knowledge-making in “Biblical South” and across the peninsula, Dr Ahmed Shams, Durham University and Sinai Peninsula Research (SPR)
14:00-14:30 Break, please do not log out of the event
14:30 From Nabataea to Provicia Arabia and Palaestina Tertia Salutaris: Cultural Continuity in the Sinai Peninsula, Dr Konstantinos D. Politis, Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies
15:30 Derring-do and derring-don’t: the ill-fated Palmer Sinai Expedition of 1882, Dr Jamie Fraser, British Museum
16:30 Closing remarks and discussion
17:00 Event closes

Presentations

Tell El-Kedwa: A Saite Period Fortress on Egypt’s Eastern Frontier (664-525 B.C.)
Dr Hesham M. Hussein, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Egypt

Tell El-Kedwa is one of the most important Saite Period sites in the northwest Sinai, located 11km northeast of Tell Heboua. Recent archaeological investigation in the northeast Delta has revealed that Tell El-Kedwa formed part of a series of Saite Period sites controlling the eastern border of Egypt and formed the western portion of the “Way(s) of Horus”. The excavations at Tell el-Kedwa have revealed the foundations of two massive consecutive fortresses, the earliest dating back to the reign of Psamtik I, known as Migdol. This talk will present the findings of this work and the archaeology of Egypt’s eastern frontier in the north Sinai.

Mount Sinai: Knowledge-making in “Biblical South” and across the peninsula  
Dr Ahmed Shams, Durham University and Sinai Peninsula Research (SPR)

Sinai’s classical landscape knowledge-making had been centred around Mount Sinai since the 4th Century CE. Between the transition from individuality to institutionalisation and the transformation from biblical south to geopolitical north in late 19th and early 20th centuries, that period had a formative impact on scholarly and popular knowledge throughout the 20th century, and well into the 21st century - namely on cartographical and archaeological knowledge, and beyond. In fact, regional archaeology surveys could be seen as a form of cartographic practice. Drawing on the 20-year field survey by Sinai Peninsula Research (SPR), this talk discusses the conventional and emerging knowledge-making patterns in the vicinity of Mount Sinai and across the peninsula.

From Nabataea to Provicia Arabia and Palaestina Tertia Salutaris: Cultural Continuity in the Sinai Peninsula
Dr Konstantinos D. Politis, Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies

The ‘Classical’ and ‘Late Antique’ period(s) demonstrate a great deal of cultural continuity in the southern Levant. Settlement patterns, agricultural practices, trade networks, architectural features, material objects and even linguistic traits established from the late Hellenistic period (3rd century B.C.) endure well into the 7th century A.D. indicating a distinct Arabian ethnicity. This may be due to political and consequently economic cohesion stimulating development and prosperity.

The Sinai Peninsula was a particularly interesting region during this epoch as it was intermediate between the Levant and Egypt. Although largely a desert landscape, it served as a strategic component in the geopolitical economy of the province. Its control guaranteed secure overland communications between the two areas. The local inhabitants of Sinai therefore played a vital role in this respect. Without their collaboration it would have been a desolate no-man’s land. Consequently Sinai was a vibrant part of the polity.

Derring-do and derring-don’t: the ill-fated Palmer Sinai Expedition of 1882
Dr Jamie Fraser, British Museum

In August 1882, three Englishmen disguised as Bedouins set out into the Sinai desert carrying £3000 of gold. These Englishmen, their servants, their camels and the gold were never seen again. While the fate of this expedition – and that of Charles Warren’s celebrated rescue mission – has long captured scholarly imagination, they have recently come into sharper focus with the publication of two books: These Chivalrous Brothers: The Mysterious Disappearance of the 1882 Palmer Sinai Expedition (David Sunderland, 2016) and Captain Gill’s Walking Stick: The True Story of the Sinai Murders (Saul Kelly, 2019). This presentation considers the nature, motivations and failures of this early intelligence operation in light of this new research, and on unpublished documents held in the PEF archives.

Please note

Register in advance using the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Events have a limited attendance capacity, so please only sign up if you’re confident that you can attend. We recommend that you join our online events using a PC or laptop.

Please ensure that you have read our guide to attending EES online events before the event begins. This event will not be recorded. 

Cairo Associates

If you are an EES Cairo Associate, then please contact the Cairo Office to receive discounted tickets. You can also renew your Cairo Associate subscription or join by contacting the Cairo Office. The joining link will be emailed to you before the event starts. 

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