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Journey of an Egyptologist. Retrospective of Etienne Drioton's career in Egypt and approach to daily life on the banks of the Nile in twentieth century Egypt.
The museum of Grenoble organizes, in collaboration with the Louvre Museum, 25 October 2018 at 27 January 2019, an exhibition-event entitled Serve the gods of Egypt: Divine worshipers, singers and priests of Amun in Thebes.
A conference related to this exhibition will be organized in January 2019 in partnership with the French Society of Egyptology. On this occasion, an exceptional meeting will take place in Grenoble and a tour of the exhibition will be organized for our members.
Florence Gombert-Meurice and Frédéric Payraudeau, who have been the scientific curators, answer our questions.
SFE: Exhibitions on Egypt from Ier millennia before our era are rare! Why did you choose this period?
Frédéric Payraudeau and Florence Gombert-Meurice : At the request of Guy Tosatto, director of the museum of Grenoble who wishes to give pride of place to the Egyptian collections of the museum, a carte blanche has been granted to the Louvre. The subject of the exhibition was defined starting from the coffins of the Amon singers and Theban priests of the XXIe dynasty of the museum of Grenoble. It was also an opportunity to showcase and study the Louvre collections for this period and to present the public with rare themes and objects that have never been exposed before.
SFE: We know the Thebes of the New Kingdom well, but can you tell us more about the place of this city in the Third Intermediate Period, at the beginning of the Ier millennium BC?
Frédéric Payraudeau : The general public is indeed familiar with the Theban monuments of the New Kingdom, such as the temples of Karnak and Louqsor, the valley of the kings or the temple of Deir el-Bahari. This corresponds to the time when Thebes was a ceremonial capital of the Egyptian Empire. On the other hand, it is often ignored that after the displacement of the royal residence in the north of the country, in Tanis, the city of Thebes remained very important from the point of view of the royal ideology, being the sanctuary of Amun-Re king of the gods. The great monuments of the previous period provide a sort of oversized backdrop to the activities of the high priests of the Third Intermediate Period. We build less and often smaller, given the economic conditions: Osirian chapels, kiosks… The city even becomes a royal residence again in the second half of the XXII.e dynasty.
SFE: What types of objects did you want to highlight?
Florence Gombert-Meurice : The purpose of the exhibition was based on the Grenoble collections, but the challenge was also to explore the Louvre collections more with a view to their next presentation in the Charles X rooms. The first reflex was therefore was to turn to the reserves but also to deepen the knowledge of the most famous Theban objects of the period such as, for example, the sistrum of Henouttaouy, the case of Chépénoupet II or the statue of Isis from Medinet Habu dedicated by the same worshiper. It is therefore both apparently modest but historically important objects and imposing works, even masterpieces, which are exhibited. Weaving links between objects from the same period and from the same place thus makes it possible to highlight certain specificities of the art and the thought of a period. Far from the great stone colossi of other more glorious times, it is the artistic peculiarities of an era that can be discovered with papyri, polychrome coffins and stelae or bronzes. The exhibition, as a visual demonstration, would like to allow in an almost intuitive way to grasp the spirit of an era.
SFE: Why did you choose to focus the exhibition on the temple world?
Florence Gombert-Meurice : The purpose built from Theban coffins of the XXIe dynasty could orient itself in many ways; the idea was to restore the historical and social context of these coffins of men and women who lived three thousand years ago and to invite visitors to push open the doors of the temple. It is therefore a question of penetrating a little into the functioning of Theban society which then plays a pivotal role in the history of the period. It was also important to lead visitors through an unknown era without losing them: the choice of a period and a precise, well-identified place was therefore essential.
SFE: The role of women in Egyptian society seems to have a great importance in the theme of the exhibition. How is this period specific in this regard?
Florence Gombert-Meurice : It is in fact first of all the questions relating to the singers of Amun, those who were in the "Residence" of the god and those who were not there which led to broaden the subject of the exhibition on the functioning of Theban society as their multiplication is symptomatic of the great religious and societal changes of the time. At that time, the importance assumed by the female clergy around the divine worshiper of the god Amon was unprecedented and stems from the wider phenomenon of specialization of the priesthoods as well as the increased role of priests in their function of direct intermediaries with the deities. The political and, so to speak, diplomatic importance of the worshipers of the god is fairly studied, but the exhibition therefore also emphasizes the other priestesses, followers and singers of Amun who also demonstrate the new functioning of the temple at this time. time of great social and religious change.
SFE: What link does this exhibition have with current research in Egyptology?
Frédéric Payraudeau We wanted this exhibition to be closely related to the progress of the research on the period, notably by bringing into the catalog specialists in the subjects. In the course of the exhibition, several aspects of the research were highlighted. Research on social groups is presented in shop windows by the unpublished gathering of objects belonging to members of the same family (those of vizier Pamy and the priest and secretary of King Hor). The research on Amon worshipers and the Osirian cult conducted in Karnak by the team led by Laurent Coulon and Cyril Giorgi to which the commissioners belong are presented via the life-size photographic reconstruction of one of the Osiris chapels.
The next hieratic academy will take place at Ifao next fall. You will find the registration procedures on the documents below.
The Practical School of High Studies welcomes, at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (54 Boulevard Raspail in Paris), Professor Paolo Gallo from the University of Turin for a series of lectures on archeology and monuments of 'Alexandria. Here is the program of these 4 interventions:
14E INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF NUBIAN STUDIES
the 14e International Congress of Nubian Studies, organized by the Louvre Museum and Sorbonne University, will take place in Paris from September 10 to 15. Frédéric Payraudeau, one of its organizers, answers our questions.
SFE - What will be the main themes addressed during this Congress?
Bro. Payraudeau: As this is a Congress which takes place every four years and which covers all periods and areas of the history of Sudan, from Antiquity to modern times, the themes will be very various, from prehistory to medieval times, including ceramics, anthropology, archeology and art from independent Nubia or under Egyptian domination.
SFE - What will be the place of Egyptology in the Congress?
Bro. Payraudeau: Egyptology will obviously have its place since Nubia is at the heart of Egyptian history from the Middle Kingdom to the XXV.e dynasty. We will therefore evoke the Egyptians in Nubia as the Nubians in Egypt.
SFE - What are the main directions of research on ancient Sudan?
Bro. Payraudeau: Research has been very active for ten years, thanks in particular to exceptional funding from Qatar (QUSAP). Many sites, formerly known or more recently discovered, have been the subject of excavation or restoration work.
SFE - How to register to attend the presentations? Where is the Congress taking place?
Bro. Payraudeau: The Congress, which should welcome more than 300 participants, is organized by the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum and the Egyptian Research Center of Sorbonne University. The presentations will take place at the INHA and at the Louvre auditorium. Program and registration information is available on the website https://www.louvre.fr/EN2018/programme.
Egyptological news Exhibition The Gold of the Pharaohs: 2500 years of goldsmithing in ancient Egypt at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, from July 7 to September 9, 2018
Christiane Ziegler, curator of the exhibition, answers our questions to present the exhibition L'Or des pharaons, which is being held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco until September 9, 2018.
SFE - How does this exhibition renew the issue of goldsmiths from the Pharaonic era?
chr. Ziegler - It takes into account recent research carried out by various laboratories, theses such as that of C. Thiaudière, as well as work carried out with my colleagues from the ancient departments of the Louvre and Saint-Germain-en-Laye with a view to publication from a dictionary of antique goldsmithing. With regard to the prospecting of deserts and the extraction of gold, it takes into account very recent research; for example those of Klemm, the recent research program of the IFAO on gold mines, the very recent work of P. Tallet on expeditions ...
SFE - What can we learn from the study of these jewels about Egyptian society?
chr. Ziegler - It's an unconventional approach to exploring many aspects of society. The jewels are a social marker, worn by an elite that they help to distinguish: symbol of wealth, of power for the sovereign and the elite, they show the favor of the sovereign towards his faithful servants (gold of the reward ... ). From the deposit to the finished product, the production chain goes from the gold prospector to the pharaoh, including the workshops of palaces and temples. They inform us about the administration and the economy of the country: expeditions led to the deposits, administration of the Royal Treasury and the great temples. They serve as a currency of exchange (manufactured products are valued, like raw products, according to their weight; creation of specific weights for gold). They bear witness to trade with neighboring countries (eg importation of lapis lazuli from Afghanistan).
They are witnesses to international relations (Egypt's stranglehold on Nubian gold, diplomatic gifts for the rulers of the Middle East ...) and cultural contacts between Egypt and the rest of the ancient world: for example, appearance of new techniques and foreign motifs (granulation of the treasure of the princesses of Dahshur which is a technique imported from Mesopotamia, already present in the royal tombs of Ur; gallop flying wild animals and antelopes on a necklace of Queen Iahhetep who is a motif imported from the Aegean world ...).
The study of the techniques reveals the processes and know-how consumed in particular in the field of the refining of the precious metal (process of the cupellation), of the alloys, of the welds, of the cloisonné ... the whole carried out with a summary tooling. Despite the contempt displayed by certain Egyptian texts, goldsmiths, whose profession was hierarchical, enjoyed a certain ease.
The role of jewelry is not reduced to adorning certain parts of the body and highlighting them, they also have a protective value through their material and their decoration. All the symbolism linked to gold and precious materials immerses us in the religious thought of the Ancient Egyptians, made explicit by the funerary texts of the late period. Mask and gold finger cots, incorruptible metal and shining like the sun, confer eternity to those who are adorned with it. The fine stones, emanations of the gods grant their magical protection to the deceased and help him to access the other world, as well as the patterns of funeral jewelry such as the winged scarab or the oudjat eye.
Finally, the looting of tomb treasures, practiced from the most remote times, marks the times of crisis. The confessions of the looters, recorded on a series of papyrus, shed a very unusual light on the behavior of certain Egyptians towards the deceased, in particular their sovereign. The jewels, objects of very great value and easy to take away, are in the first place the prey of the thieves, including some of those deposited in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
SFE - The exhibition poster shows the golden funerary mask of Psousennès I discovered in the royal necropolis of Tanis by the mission of Pierre Montet. How did you evoke in this exhibition the archaeological discovery of pieces of goldsmith's work?
chr. Ziegler - I chose to precede the treasures of Tanis by a large introductory room which combines extracts from period films, excavation archives, manuscripts and the famous telegram from Montet to his family announcing the discovery of the untouched tomb of Psousennès. All these documents were kindly lent to me by the Mission Française des Fouilles de Tanis. Then the major works are exhibited: golden mask, silver sarcophagus and jewelry from Psousennès, jewelry and goldsmith's from d'Aménémopé, Oundebaounded and Chéchanq II.
NB. All the illustrations presented here were kindly provided to us by the teams of the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, whom we thank.
On the occasion of the inauguration of a new presentation of the Egyptian rooms at the Tessé museum in Le Mans, the SFE interviewed two Egyptologists who worked on the collections, Hélène Bouillon, heritage curator, and Marc Étienne, chief curator in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum.
SFE: How was this project to reorganize the Egyptian rooms of the Tessé museum set up? What were the collaborations?
Helene Bouillon : “When I was sent by the museum service of France (SMF) to help redesign the Egyptian rooms of the Tessé museum, the project had already been underway for several years. Geneviève Pierrat-Bonnefois, then chief curator in the department of Egyptian Antiquities at the Louvre museum, and François Arné, the director of the Le Mans museums, were thinking about a new deposit at the Louvre and a new course that would refocus on funeral customs and would highlight the photographic reconstructions of the tombs of Sennefer and Nefertari. Nicolas de Larquier and Fanny Hamonic also participated in the overhaul during their training at the National Heritage Institute. Nicolas worked on the choice of the pieces and their position in the course, Fanny notably created the synopsis of the playful terminal around the tomb of Nefertari. I helped to finalize the project, wrote the final version of the texts of the rooms, as well as those of the audio guide and gave a hand during the construction, first for the storage before the works then when of the arrival of the new deposit. "
SFE: How many new pieces are presented and which are particularly interesting?
Helene Bouillon : “The Tessé museum has kept around twenty pieces from the old depot, including a very beautiful chaouabti in the costume of the living. Among the thirty objects in the new depot, there is a box with painted chaouabtis, also from the Ramesside period. The pieces deposited range from the senet pawn to the sculpted limestone pyramidion, but it is not necessarily the smallest pieces that are the least rare in museum reserves. Particular attention has been paid to the situation. The showcase of the chapel, for example, is very successful: stele, statue, funeral cones and pyramidion are placed there so that the visitor can imagine them in place. In addition, Jean-Claude Golvin has authorized the museum to print his magnificent watercolors in very large format, which facilitates contextualization. I am particularly sensitive to the window which shows the vases, ornaments, clothes, walking stick and sandals, which constitute a kind of trousseau of the Egyptian nobleman. All the objects in this showcase are represented identically in Sennefer's tomb. Some are canonical and even in a way anachronistic like the alabaster-calcite plateau that we no longer find in the tombs of the time; some scrupulously follow the fashion such as cylindrical cuts on foot. The Greco-Roman mummy, already presented before, was the subject of a complete study (scanner) by Dr Samuel Mérigeaud, showing that it was a man and not a young girl. ! But of course, one of the most beautiful pieces in the current presentation is the Book of the Dead chosen by Marc Etienne for the new deposit. "
SFE: Can you tell us about the renewal of the Louvre deposit and the two funeral papyri deposited at the Tessé museum?
Marc Etienne : “On the occasion of the renewal of the deposit made by the Egyptian Antiquities Department of the Louvre, new works were installed to complete the collections. This museum housing the photographic reproductions of the tombs of Sennéfer and Nefertari, the choice of new objects fell on elements represented in these tombs or on those which included similar decorative or iconographic themes. In this logic, two papyri have been deposited at Le Mans which will be presented in alternation to best meet the requirements for the duration of exposure of graphic documents. In addition, a new mode of presentation has been developed in order to restore the continuous vision of a roll from the stored sheets. These are the Books of the Dead in the name of Nesmin and Tchahapyimou two members of the staff of the temple of Amun in Karnak with a length of 5,25 m for the first and 8,5 m for the second. They are both polychrome and in places contain traces of the preparatory sketches for the placement of the characters, particularly in the scene of the weighing of the heart. Their style and layout are good examples of the quality of the funeral papyri produced at the 4e and 3e s. Before our era. The visitor will recognize there sequences and vignettes which are found on the walls of the tombs presented at Le Mans but also on the remarkable coffins and cardboard boxes that the Tessé museum has, allowing him to grasp their meaning in these contexts. "
This colloquium is devoted to Horapollo, known as the author of a treatise on hieroglyphics - the only one that has come down to us from Antiquity - but who remains a mysterious figure. If about half of the hieroglyphic signs treated by Horapollo are more or less correct, the purely allegorical exegesis that he gives of them is above all dependent on traditions specific to late Hellenism. Since its discovery in 1419, this work has aroused interest in hieroglyphics by having a profound impact on Renaissance iconography and emblematic literature.
Three questions to Luc Gabolde, research director at CNRS (UMR 5140), author of Karnak, Amon-Ré: the genesis of a temple, the birth of a God, Study Library 167, Cairo, IFAO, 2018.