domingo, março 04, 2012

Book of the Dead nuances...

3441_3327 Mummy Bandages Ptolemaic-Roman Freud Museum, London
Back from Bonn, from the Third Book of the Dead Colloquim, I have learned more about the Spells and what they might be...
The Project is still running at Bonn University, until the end of 2012, and we discussed how later discoveries can be added. Not sure yet, but there will be an online moderation for the inputs given into the database.
Very interesting lectures were given; about specific vignettes, spells and their material basis, the script, the meaning...
I had the opportunity to meet again scholars I already knew, and some I have never met before. Also had the chance to get details about some PhD's going on that 'touch' relevant information for me. It was nice to chat with colleagues and professors, to learn more theories and thoughts.
The colloquium was very professionally organized and the museum exhibition that inaugurated during our stay was very nice to see, displayed with a catalogue having interesting articles, which I brought.
Nesitanebtashru, Deir el-Bahari, British Museum, London
So what did people talk about in this meeting? They did ask 'out-of-the-box' questions...
Are Spells funerary literature or not? What about magical and medical 'spells' that are 'included' in the BoD or just found and not included anywhere because scholars don't know what to do with them?

Some of the gods, demons and other entities portrayed in the vignettes are exquisite and unknown or unnamed. or just untranslatable. Yet...

Fragment of a Book of the Dead, belonging to Paheby, son of Ankhpakhered and Takhebyt, Carlos Emory University Museum

There are scholars doing excellent research to bring these questions to an end. I was fortunate enough to share their thoughts.

The literature from ancient Egypt is extensive, and more tombs' walls depicting texts, still undocumented for now, are awaiting publication. Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, Demotic...languages unknown...magical words.

Seller at souk, Deir el Bahari
Magic and medicine were a whole concept in ancient Egypt then, from Pre-dynastic times to Arabic times, even until today. Who does not know the beneficial effects of the bakhour?

I felt good to be researching medicine and magic associated with Osiris as he is one of the main characters in the BoD. Every deceased becomes an Osiris NN.

You have to be dead to be Osiris and you have to be Osiris to be reborn. Understood. But what about all those instructions? Are all deceased people able to overcome the obstacles, the monsters, the magic?

University of Bonn Aegyptisches Museum
Ancient Egyptians invested much in the preparation for the afterlife. The Spells were probably made for the deceased, and for the living people, so they are not all funerary, they do not exist as a whole package. Egyptologists titled these spells as Book of the Dead chapters.

Another proposed idea was if it was good to re-number the everyone in egyptology would use that, and the chaos would be ancient Egyptians, we do not want that, we want order.

The panoplia of entities in these texts give us plenty of subjects to research further, and we still have many untranslatable words, drawings and depictions of beings. Much to be done.

More research is needed then, and more texts have to be interpreted. I hope more meetings like this happen soon.
While I wait for my next 'place of learning' to come in time, I am eagerly awaiting the books I bought at the conference, with discount, to arrive and fill me with the joy of learning!

I came to the same conclusions I always do when leaving international metings; you have to invest in your learning if you want to be a researcher, you have to learn languages, no matter how long and how hard it is, and you have to read, think and ask questions. Always. Whoever thinks that research is an easy job, and that researchers do nothing but give some classes pasted from books, read one article from time to time, and look at nice exhibitions, is wrong. Research takes time, patience, effort, money, a certain degree of resilience to be able to travel, sometimes, long distances; carry books, stay up at museums looking at details in artefacts, and taking pictures both at museums and at sites, spend hours in libraries searching for the right bibliography, and reading them, taking notes until your eyes get red and fuzzy...

And you have to publish. What is the point of researching a very deep concept about ancient Egyptian religion, if you keep it to yourself? Publish, so other people can use your references, and develop more subjects and theories.

Tacos' Mexican lunch, Bonn
Very happy also to have heard of colleagues finishing their PhD thesis' defense Summa Cum Laude!!!!!!!

Some links:

Aegyptisches Museum Bonn

British Museum exhibition 2011 BM, London

Book of the Dead Conservation, Brooklyn, NY

Book of the Dead, ROM, Canada

Exhibition at Bonn's Aegyptisches Museum 2012

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