06 Aug 2014

Animal Magic!

A review of the recent SOAS study day

On Saturday 26th July we were very pleased to host four of the world’s leading experts on animals in Ancient Egypt to speak at our Summer Study Day: Prof. Salima Ikram, Dr Joanne Rowland, Prof. Dieter Kessler and Susan Davies.


Dr Aidan Dodson, Chair of the Society introduces the Study Day and the first speaker for the day, Prof. Salima Ikram.

Throughout the day attendees were treated to ground breaking discoveries being made in the field of animal mummification and excavation, not to mention the tales of exploding experiments and ‘black goo’!

The event kicked off with an entertaining session by Prof. Salima Ikram who introduced us to the types of animal mummies found around Egypt, as well as a few anecdotes about the experimental mummification she has been involved in. A few shocks with plenty of laughs were a great start to exploring animal cults in Ancient Egypt.


Dr Joanne Rowland introduces delegates to the falcon catacombs discovered at the Society excavations at Quesna

The exploration of cult establishments around the animal catacombs at Tuna el-Gebel were introduced by Prof. Dieter Kessler who gave a concise tour of the region around Hermopolis Magna and the processional routes towards the animal necropolis itself. 

The study day was closed by Susan Davies who returned to her research on the Society’s excavations at Saqqara’s Sacred Animal Necropolis, and in particular the texts preserved there. The personalities of those involved in the cults of the Mothers of the Apis Bulls were presented in the broader context of the site’s archaeology – along with many more recent examples of animal veneration.


Dr Aidan Dodson chairs the floor during the closing discussion


A packed lecture theatre during the closing discussion

The event came to an end with an evening reception allowing everybody to reflect on the topics presented and network with old friends and colleagues. This is always a valuable part of the day which allows everybody to enjoy a few drinks with the speakers.

All that is left is for us to thank the four speakers again, and to thank all of those who attended the day and made it a wonderful experience of Egyptology and networking! We are looking forward to the next one – Dynasties in Decline: The Second Intermediate Period in Ancient Egypt, which also coincides with the Society’s Annual General Meeting.