Exploring Egyptian Histories from Early Egyptology

11am-12pm (UK) / 1-2pm (Egypt)

Sorting papers in the Slaughterhouse Archive. © Ayman Damarany and Hazem Salah, 2016.

Much of the research conducted into the history of Egyptology, as it transitioned during the first half of the 20th century from a collector’s backyard into an area of western-sanctioned archaeological research, focuses on the experiences and perceptions of western scholars, with little attention given to the involvement or presence of Egyptians. The recent discovery of thousands of archival documents in a storeroom inside the Temple of Seti I in Abydos represents a significant and valuable dataset that can contribute to a more holistic history of the discipline that involves actors who have traditionally been sidelined. This presentation will present an overview of the main findings of the Abydos Paper Archive Project, highlighting the responsibilities, duties and agency of Egyptian scholars and employees during the early years of the Antiquities Service as they administered sites in the inspectorates of Sohag, Assiut and further afield. It aims to articulate a more inclusive narrative of the history of Egyptology that challenges the mostly linear eurocentric approach that has framed an understanding of the discipline over the past decades.

Dr Nora Shalaby is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin supported by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung where she is working on the Abydos archive. She completed her PhD at the Freie Universität, Berlin on a lithic assemblage from the site of Wadi Maghara. Previously, she worked as a Senior Project Assistant in the Egyptian Museum Database and Registrar Training Project and has excavated at several sites across Egypt including Luxor, Tell el-Daba and Islamic Cairo   

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