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Lydia Bashford & Eleuterio Sousa

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 15 October 2019 (Week 10), 2-3.30pm

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world. View the schedule for the research seminar.

All are welcome! Please arrive on time and join us after the seminar for coffee, tea and biscuits!

Convenor: Dr Alexandra Woods Twitter


Lydia Bashford | PhD candidate, Macquarie University

Archaeo-Ornithology and the Golden Oriole: towards a model of Egyptian-bird interaction

The cultural representations and beliefs surrounding animals of all shapes and sizes is an outcome of the particular dynamics of interaction with them. This material culture can therefore be analysed not just as an expression of the thoughts and ideas of past humans, but also as tangible evidence for “situated interactional dynamics” between human, non-human, and the ecosystem. Exploring the long-term histories of certain bird families or species in Egypt, for instance, may provide new perspectives on just how we might interpret the changing significance of these animals in the subsistence behaviour and material culture of the human populations sharing the same landscape for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The starting point for such an inquiry would be investigating the visual, ecological, and behavioural specificities of various birds, and how these details might have shaped human-bird relations in different ecocultural settings. In this paper, I will apply this theoretical model to a bird well represented in image and name at Beni Hassan, and the Egyptian iconographic record. The Golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus) was a bird unmistakable in its representation during the Old and Middle Kingdoms and was often accompanied by its label gnw. As an arboreal bird, it features most often in scenes relating to orchards and the trapping of birds. These iconographic details set the scene for an archaeo-ornitholgical case study and towards creating a model of Egyptian-bird interaction.

Eleuterio Sousa | University of Manitoba

Animal Butchering Technology in Bronze Age Egypt

Meat was an important part of Ancient Egyptian cuisine, which is known from ancient texts and iconography to have also transcended into the ideology of offerings for the afterlife. However, access to animals or parts for food is likely as stratified as is the rest of Egyptian society. While a great deal of research has been done on meat processing in Egypt, there are few considerations of the types of technology used in the butchering process and their chronology of adoption. In other words, when is there shift from a stone tool to a metal tool technology in such mundane matters as meat processing. In this paper, we will present a chronological overview of the tools used in the butchering process in order to begin to answer the question as to when do metal tools begin to appear in the material culture of Ancient Egypt for animal butchering and consider its socio-cultural impact.

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Departmental Research Seminar

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world.