Once in a while, I like to use the reach of my blog to help out my friends, which I do in an occasional series called “Support My Friends” Saturday.
I seem to have a number of friends with a deep fascination with ancient Egypt. One of these friends is Leah, who’s taken this fascination and run with it, getting a B.A, in Historical Studies from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and now doing grad work at the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations on Egyptology.
She’s just come across the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to go and work on a “dig” at Mendes, Egypt (near the modern Egyptian town of el-Mansurah) with Donald Redford, one of the most renowned living Egyptologists. While there, she’ll share her experiences and finds (those she’s allowed to share, based on the dig’s rules) in photos and on a blog.
Want to know more about Mendes? Click here.
The problem is money (isn’t it always?). To go on this dig, she needs $5000, which will cover:
- $3500 for the “class fee” for going on the dig. This is a field school, so this covers instruction in archaeological techniques, housing, food, transportation within Egypt and educational weekend trips for the entire month.
- $1200 for a round-trip flight from Toronto to Cairo.
Getting archaeological dig skills is something of a catch-22. Many digs won’t take you as a team member unless you have field skills, but you can’t gain field skills without digging. This is where field schools come in. It is a fully-functional dig that doubles as on-the-job training — ideal for getting your foot in the archaeological door!
I chose this dig for many reasons. First and foremost, Dr. Donald Redford is one of my academic and personal heroes. He’s an absolutely brilliant force of nature and the idea of getting to spend a month learning from him and working with him makes my head spin giddily. Secondly, Mendes (called Djedet by the ancient Egyptians) was the cultic center of the goddess Hatmehit, whose name means “The Foremost of the Fishes”. I am fascinated with fish symbolism and iconography and there are few sites in Egypt that are more relevant to my research interests.
It may seem obscure and odd, but understanding the importance of fish can go a long way toward understanding the ancient Egyptian relationship with life, death and the feminine aspects of the divine. I am extremely interested in fleshing out our understanding of the lives of women in Egyptian antiquity on their own terms, not just as wife of x and daughter of y. I hope to do this through scholarship pertaining to less overt symbols of femininity and the female divine.