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Hotter than the sands of Egypt...

On Saturday 21st June 2014 we were delighted to welcome Jennifer Palmer and Steven Gregory to present their research surrounding the complex reign of Herihor in an event titled, ‘Return of the King: Theban governance at the close of the Twentieth Dynasty’.


Thank you to all those who attended and persevered through the intense heat of the EES Committee Room to hear the research presented by both speakers – it was an intensive day, with in depth discussions of kingship, cosmology and Theban theocracy all thrown in for good measure.


Jennifer Palmer, a final year PhD student from the University of Birmingham, started the day by giving an introduction to the period under investigation and the chronological considerations that had to be taken into account. One attendee thanked the speaker for ‘unravelling the migraine-inducing chronology issues’. It was crucial to cover these points before the finer details of Herihor’s kingship could be explored. For those who missed out on the event, you can download the chronology and genealogy presented by Jennifer here. If you would like to read more about her research into this topic, which formed the focus for her MA thesis at the University of Birmingham, then you can access an article published in Birmingham Egyptology Journal here.

The rest of the day was presented by our second speaker Steven Gregory, Chair of Birmingham Egyptology. He presented his ground-breaking research which reanalyses the reign of Herihor through the terminology used to describe his role in Thebes, this was performed in the wider context of discussions of Egyptian religion and kingship during the Egyptian New Kingdom. One key theme that was investigated through the afternoon was the use of modern religious terminology to discuss religion in Ancient Egypt – including the overuse and often misuse of the term ‘priest’. The realisation that a restrictive repertoire of terms used in modern scholarship can sometimes hinder our understanding of the past was a very formative conclusion for many people’s preconceptions in the room (including me!). For those wishing to read more about Steven’s research regarding use of terminology in Egyptology, you can access his online article here.


Above left: Herihor in his 'not-so-priestly' robes at the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak.


Further work by Steven about the reign of Herihor can also be accessed here.


Despite technical problems causing impromptu breaks it remains to thank all who remained open-minded and welcomed new ideas and approaches. The research presented raised many new possibilities and many left with the feeling that they had received much ‘food for thought’ – one person kindly commented saying, “it is not that often that you leave thinking to yourself, ‘I never thought of it that way before’.” As Steven stated at the start of his presentation, much of academia relies on asking new questions of previously analysed material and presenting different views that will likewise be questioned again in the future. It was great to see that looked so deeply into a very focused topic was so well attended (a complete sell-out!) and had so many positive comments, thank you to all those who have sent messages to forward to the speakers. We always like to thank our speakers – but as so many have sent messages we thought it kind to share some particular favourites here:


“I thought Saturday’s seminar was the most interesting one I have attended in a long time – it is refreshing to have assumptions challenged and old preconceptions examined/questioned/debunked.”

“Both speakers were excellent”

“Such an interesting and thought-provoking day”

“That has certainly given me plenty of food-for-thought”

“It’s great to see Herihor being given more attention!”


Very rarely are events able to stimulate understanding of so many topics in Egyptology, but it is fair to say that Saturday’s seminar certainly opened eyes to a whole new world of possibilities in the future of Egyptological research and approaches.


Above: The geneaology of the family of Herihor as presented by Jennifer Palmer during Saturday's seminar.

Thank you to our speakers for taking their time to present current research, and thank you also to those who took the time to attend and maintain focus through such uncomfortable heat! This will hopefully be the last time the EES will try replicating Egyptian temperatures in such small spaces!


Don’t worry if you missed out on Saturday’s seminar, you can still read about Steven and Jenny’s research by following the hyperlinks below or meet them at this November’s Birmingham Study Day which will be a co-run event with both the EES and Birmingham Egyptology.


Further reading:

Gregory, Steven R. W. 2013. The role of the Iwn-mwt.f in the New Kingdom monuments of Thebes. BMSAES20: 25–46. FREE online, click here

Gregory, S. R. W. 2013. ‘Piankh and Herihor: Art, Ostraca, and Accession in Perspective’. Birmingham Egyptology Journal 1: 5-18. FREE online, click here

Palmer, J. 2014. ‘The High Priests of Amun at the End of the Twentieth Dynasty’. Birmingham Egyptology Journal 2: 1.-22. FREE online, click here


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