Egypt in LA Brings Scholars to the Public

Fascinating insights into Ancient Egypt drew a large public audience as part of the Egypt in LA event, held recently by the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Five international Egyptologists joined three UCLA faculty in engaging presentations and discussion in Royce Hall on Saturday, October 5. This was followed on Monday by a private tour at the Getty Villa led by Marie Svoboda, Conservator of Antiquities, with a special appearance by the museum’s curator.

Presentations on Saturday focused on “Women in Ancient Egypt: Power, Placentas, and Tattoos.“ Featured were six editors of the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology (UEE), a prestigious online resource of in-depth articles on Ancient Egypt, whose Editor-in-Chief is Willeke Wendrich, Director of the CIoA. Her animated discussion of “Placentas, Sieves, and the Ancestors” was the closing contribution of the event. 

UEE editors who spoke included Prof. Tanja Pommerening, University of Mainz, whose talk was on “Ancient Egyptian Concepts of Female Anatomy;” Prof. Anne Austin, University of Missouri, St. Louis, on “Tattooing in Ancient Egypt: New Discoveries;” Prof. Andreas Stauder, École pratique des hautes études, Paris (Ernestine Elster Lecturer), “On the Verge of Writing: Egypt in the Late Fourth Millenium;” Prof. Rune Nyord, Emory College, “The Power of Ancient Egyptian Images;” and Prof. Julie Stauder-Porchet, Swiss National Science Foundation, Université de Genève (Ernestine Elster Lecturer), “Royal Agency and Visual Address: Tomb Facades at Qubbet el-Hawa.”

After a welcome by David Schaberg, UCLA Dean of Humanities, Prof. Kathlyn Cooney, UCLA, led off the event with insights into “Women & Power in Ancient Egypt.”  Dr. Jonathan Winnerman, also of UCLA, brought attention to “Misdirected Violence in Ancient Egypt? Ethnicity, Gender, and the State.”

“It was very exciting to hear how different approaches to social history and the particular role of women bring to light an unexpected image of ancient society.” Prof. Wendrich commented on the presentations. “Using varied source materials, methods and theories, the speakers teased out for us what life in ancient Egypt was like for women (and men) of all social ranks,” she added.

“The engagement of the audience was very gratifying. For them, it was a chance to see that Egyptological scholarship can be quite accessible,” she noted.

Prior to the public events, UEE editors met to discuss strategies for a campaign to expand the entries, which are archived in eScholarship, and update the technology driving the interactive interface of the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. This ongoing effort will contribute to the project, which has been over a decade in the making.