This year the Society took on an army of volunteers to help expand its events programme to include free Access Archive Afternoons and to engage audiences online with an ‘Introduction to Ancient Egypt’ (still available at www.eesevents.wordpress.com). Stephanie Boonstra was one of these volunteers but will soon embark on her PhD research at the University of Birmingham. Here she talks a little about her time at the EES and what the future holds.
It’s great for us to see our volunteers moving onto new things, what will you be working on in Birmingham?
I will be doing a joint PhD/studentship as the Post-Graduate Curator of the Eton Myers Collection under the supervision of Dr Martin Bommas (Editor of JEA). This position will not only allow me to complete my PhD research on an exciting and unpublished collection of Egyptian artefacts, but will also reward me with valuable curatorial experience!
Which of the skills you’ve developed whilst volunteering will help in your new role?
Volunteering at the EES this past year has definitely assisted me in obtaining this position in Birmingham. The public engagement, event planning, handling of precious objects, and online exhibition formation will all be beneficial experience for my curatorial duties with the Eton Myers Collection. Furthermore, the networking opportunities at the EES are fantastic!
You’ve recently been on Dr Jo Rowland’s expedition to Imbaba. Tell us a bit about your experience there?
We have just finished our season of work at Merimde Beni Salama, an extremely important Neolithic, Epipaleolithic, and Middle Palaeolithic site in the Western Delta. The survey and excavation work has been truly amazing but the people I worked with and have met are the definite highlights. Our small team was comprised of director Dr Joanne Rowland, co-director Dr Geoffrey Tassie, myself, and four Quftis, including Rais Omer Farouk, and Am Yasseen, who started his archaeology career working under Emery in the 1960s and from whom I learned a lot about Egyptian archaeology.
How did you find presenting at our Leicester Study Day in June 2014?
It was such a rewarding experience! I felt truly honoured to be able to present to EES members and the public during a day studying the history and reception of mummies from prehistoric Egypt until Hollywood.
What have you liked most about joining the EES team?
Simply being a part of the EES team has been an amazing experience! I’ve really enjoyed working closely with the EES London office team, meeting the many impressive scholars frequently visiting the office and events, and interacting with the members and public. I love sharing my passion about Egypt, past and present, with such an amazing and diverse group of people!
Saying goodbye (temporarily) to the rest of the team in September!
Was there any particular activity that you enjoyed more than others?
I really enjoyed the Access Archive Afternoons, a pilot project started by Carl Graves and the volunteers this spring. These afternoons allowed the general public to come into the EES, view archive material, and hear a free lecture given by one of the volunteers.
Which Egyptologists were you particularly pleased to meet during your time with us?
Oh wow, I have met so many scholars whose work I admire during my time at the EES that it would be hard to pick just a few! However, meeting Professors Harry Smith and Salima Ikram at the July Study Day were particular highlights as I have long admired their work and contributions to Egyptology.
What does the future hold? Will we be seeing you in our events programme again soon?
Absolutely! I’m very much looking forward to the Study Day in Birmingham on November 29th. Plus I will definitely frequently visit London to attend other events; Birmingham is only just over an hour away by train!