The latest round of Centenary Awards were advertised in October 2012. This year the Society was able to make a total of £4,000 available to support early-career Egyptologists.
The awards are intended to provide funding for small research projects of the kind that would not normally be undertaken otherwise, for example as part of a doctoral degree. The aim is to provide not only the necessary funding but also valuable experience of the logistics involved in organizing a project - in Egypt in many cases - and bringing the project to fruition. An important part of that lies in sharing the results of the work of course and we provide a platform for successful applicants to do that with articles in JEA, EA and the Newsletter, and online, and through public presentations as part of our events programme.
For this round we received a significantly greater number of applications than in previous years, and standards were generally extremely high. The Society’s Fieldwork and Research Committee met to consider the applications towards the end of January and was very impressed with, and interested in, the projects proposed, and strongly encouraged by the calibre of the applicants. Unfortunately, the available funds were not sufficient for the Society to support as many of the projects as it would have liked. The Committee’s decision was approved by the Board of Trustees a short while afterwards and we are delighted to announce that two awards will be made to the two young scholars for the following projects:
Hany el-Tayeb Ahmed, ‘The Rashepses Project. Excavation, conservation and publication of the Mastaba of Rashepses LS 16 at Saqqara’
Kathryn Howley, ‘The Royal Tombs of Nuri: Cultural Interaction between Nubia and Egypt in the Middle Napatan Period’
We’re very pleased to be in a position, thanks to the Centenary Fund, to make a difference to Hany and Kathryn’s work, and delighted that in both cases the Society will be able to provide the full amounts requested. Their projects closely follow the 'Amelia Edwards Project' model for funding research, whereby research initiatives are deliberately conceived with very closely-focused, tangible outcomes in mind, allowing for their aims to be met at low cost and within a relatively limited time frame. Such proposals lead to outcomes being achieved quickly and easily and we are confident that our investment in Hany and Kathryn's projects will lead to significant results in the coming months and we look forward to passing news of this on in due course.
It was very encouraging to see so many wonderful proposals: Egyptology is clearly blessed at present with a very healthy group of researchers with the right skills and an abundant supply of new ideas to help drive the subject forward in the coming years. Previous recipients have gone on to become significant players in the field and include the holders of senior positions at the American University in Cairo (Salima Ikram), British Museum (EES Trustee Neal Spencer), Cambridge University (Kate Spence), University of Chicago (Nadine Moeller), and also two of the Society’s current field directors, Angus Graham and Joanne Rowland. We have every confidence that Hany and Kathryn will go on to enjoy similar success.
It is likely that the support the Society provides for young scholars through the Centenary Fund will increase in importance in the coming years as the economic situation remains difficult and funding for higher education in the humanities continues to dwindle. We are determined to do everything we can to ensure that the next generation of Egyptologists has the opportunity to flourish and to this end we will be hosting a reception at the forthcoming Current Research in Egyptology (CRE) conference in Cambridge in March this year. Our aim is not only to promote the Centenary Awards which we hope to advertise again this autumn, but also to find out how we might be able to be more useful to students generally. The Board of Trustees is currently considering how best to use the funds from a substantial legacy, some of which it may be able to set aside to support the student community, for example through prizes for writing or conference presentations, or bursaries to support travel to Egypt. We are hoping that our discussions at CRE will help us to establish how we could be genuinely useful to the next generation of scholars.
Hasiballah el-Tayeb in 1988 with his plate camera
And finally, we were delighted to discover, after the awards had been made, that one of this year’s successful applicants, Hany El-Tayeb, is a relative of Hasiballah el-Tayeb, the antiquities service photographer some of whose images featured in another recent news story. Egyptology is a small world!