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Ancient Egyptian Site of Abydos—Subject of Symposium, New Book
September 15, 2009, Volume 56, No. 03



Abydos is one of the Penn Museum’s major, long-term excavation projects, in conjunction with Yale and the Institute of Fine Arts in New York. This event and book provide a great overview. 

Joe Wegner is active at the site excavating a wonderful subterranean tomb of pharaoh Senwosret III (ca. 1850 BCE). He also continues work on other parts of South Abydos including the ancient town of the Middle Kingdom, investigating life in a 4,000 year old community.

A number of major discoveries have been made at the archaeological site of Abydos in upper Egypt in recent years, including:  

• courtiers and servants sacrificed during the mortuary rituals of Egypt’s earliest pharaohs; 

• a mysterious fleet of full-scale wooden boats—the earliest known built boats in the world—buried in the desert far from the Nile;

• the oldest royal monumental buildings constructed in Egypt, long before the pyramids;

• the palatial residence of a high Middle Kingdom official, and inside, a unique decorated magical brick used to support the official’s wife, a princess of the royal house while giving birth.

On Saturday, September 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., there will be a full-day public symposium, Ancient Abydos: From Egypt’s First Pharaohs to its Last Pyramid to consider what has been learned at the site—and what new insights may yet lie underground.

The program concludes with a book signing of a major new volume, the most comprehensive look to date at the important site: Abydos: Egypt’s First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris (2009, Thames & Hudson, Ltd, London). The book is written by David O’Connor, Penn Museum’s Curator Emeritus of the Egyptian section and a principal excavator involved at the site for more than 40 years.

The sacred city of Abydos served as the primary cult center of the Egyptian god Osiris, ruler of the underworld. The immense religious importance of this site is evident in its rich archaeological remains, which cover all phases of ancient Egyptian civilization. Since 1967, the University of Pennsylvania-Yale-IFA Expedition to Abydos has investigated the complex history and development at the site.

Symposium speakers include Dr. David O’Connor (co-director, Penn-Yale-IFA Expedition to Abydos), Dr. Matthew Adams (Shunet el-Zebib, North Abydos), Dr. Janet Richards (Abydos Middle Cemetery Project), Dr. Josef Wegner (Senwosret III Mortuary Complex, South Abydos Project), and Dr. Stephen Harvey (Ahmose and Tetisheri Project).

The symposium is sponsored by the American Research Center in Egypt, Pennsylvania Chapter (ARCE-PA); the Center for Ancient Studies; the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; and the Penn Museum. 

Advance registration: $15 General Admission, $5 Museum members, and free for ARCE-PA members and PennCard holders. At-the-door registration: $20 General Admission, $10 Museum members, $5 for ARCE- PA members and PennCard holders.


Almanac - September 15, 2009, Volume 56, No. 03