1) What is Egyptology?
"Egypt": Egypt. "ology": the study of. "Egyptology": the study of Egypt, but specifically Ancient Egypt. Egyptology can include but is not necessarily limited to the history, art, religion, literature, and culture of Ancient Egypt.
2) Does that mean you're like Indiana Jones?
Not all Egyptologists are archaeologists... and if there was an archaeologist like Indiana Jones in this day and age, they would be not be held in high regard. Furthermore, most Egyptologists would describe someone like Indiana Jones as a treasure hunter rather than an archaeologist.
I do still love Indiana Jones as a character though.
3) Do you study pyramids 'n' stuff?
I have not yet met an Egyptologist who hasn't studied pyramids at one point in their career. However, not all Egyptologists specialize in pyramids. I would be one of those Egyptologists.
4) Can you read hieroglyphics?
Yes. I spent 4+ years learning how to read and translate them. Other Egyptologists I know have spent that much time and more learning the language as well.
5) Is learning hieroglyphics hard?
For me it was, but others have a more natural ability with it.
6) What does one do with an Egyptology degree?
Some people teach, some people lead excavations, others work at museums and cultural institutions. I have been focusing on museum work because I like curating exhibits and am more focused on Ancient Egypt's art history.
7) Did Ancient Egyptians come from outer space?
8) But I dunno... those pyramids are pretty impressive for such an ancient race.
I don't think you're giving ancient people enough credit. It's important to be aware that the pyramids didn't just pop up in the middle of the desert one day. Even before the Old Kingdom (which is when the pyramids at Giza were built), Egyptian civilization was already quite old. Unlike me, they were pretty adept at math and engineering! =P
9) Did Hebrew slaves build the pyramids?
No. This is always a controversial answer, but it's the truth. It's very clear from archaeological and textual records that free (meaning they weren't slaves) Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. Somebody once explained to me how this misunderstanding has come to be taken as fact. If I remember correctly, I think it has to do with an illustration in a first millennium Haggadah manuscript that depicted Hebrew slaves working with pyramids in the background- an image that was perpetuated over time. However, it should be remembered that Exodus takes place well after the pyramids were built and that whoever illustrated the 1st millennium Haggadah may have just chosen to depict the pyramids because they are monuments that pretty much everyone associates with Egypt.
This particular question is one that I'm particularly sensitive to because it's a misunderstanding that continues to this day on a pretty large scale.
10) What made you decide to become an Egyptologist?
It's just something that interested and continues to interest me. When I found out I can get paid for something that I'm interested in, I thought "why not?"
This is an odd question for me, though I suppose being an Egyptologist must seem like an odd job.
11) Do people still find stuff in Egypt?
I refer you to this page.
I returned from a red eye today and am exhausted.
However, in response to a comment left on my GoComics page, I thought I would provide further explanation of what fat cones are and how they are believed to have functioned:
In Ancient Egyptian banqueting scenes (often found in tombs), there are depictions of elite men and women partying it up- you know, dancing, playing musical instruments, drinking... The elite women are often shown wearing cones on their wigs, which Egyptologists have interpreted as being perfumed cones of fat. (see Fig. 1) The idea is that throughout the night, the fat would melt off onto their wigs and release a delightful smell.
Some Egyptologists, however, believe that the fat cones should be read more as hieroglyphic symbols (in the same way that we understand that the headdress that the goddess Isis is often shown wearing is a hieroglyph for the word "throne") rather than as a depiction of something that an Egyptian elite woman would wear. (see Fig. 2) This year, an Egyptologist found a female mummy wearing a cone on her head and he believes that this could be one of those perfumed fat cones we've all been thinking about. The cone has yet to be analyzed so we don't know what it is for sure, but I'm looking forward to seeing if it is indeed a perfumed fat cone.
Fig. 1: scene from Tomb of Nebamun (New Kingdom)
Fig. 2: Goddess Isis with "throne" headdress
Here is a video accompaniment to todays (5-27-11) comic
Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. This year I turn 29, which makes me feel weird though strangely, I do not feel old (yet).
I'm about to head out the door to get this birthday started, but I'll blog more about how 29 feels later, I'm sure.
I'll try to spare you about how nostalgic and irrational I get at these somewhat arbitrary markers of the passage of time.
Busy past couple of weeks:
1) I'm packing for a move from downtown Manhattan to further downtown Manhattan.
2) I had my own little birthday party in NYC at a great Belgian beer bar called "Vol de Nuit"- I highly recommend it for dates, if you're going earlier in the evening or for larger parties later in the evening.
3) I was writing an article that is supposed to go on the Met's website at some point.
4) Last Friday was my last day at the Met =(
5) Preparing for a short term move to Boston for my summer job at the Museum of Fine Arts.
6) Flew out to California to see my family and friends here (and to renew my driver's license b/c I refuse to get a NY one for as long as I can).
7) Celebrated my birthday (which is on May 25th) with my LA friends last night at a Polish restaurant and later at a British pub.
And now I must take my grandma to dim sum, which I will do with great pleasure...
Thanks to all that came out to see me in the Bronx yesterday. Even though it was a slower, smaller convention, business was good!
Also it's Mother's Day. Remember to call your moms!
I will now regale you with a story.:
My mom used to drop me off at school every day until I was a senior in high school. She would usually pull up to the front of the school, and before I opened up the door to leave, I would give her a kiss goodbye. The snootier of my peers would give me a lot of grief for this. Rather than be embarrassed, however, I just felt a lot of pity for these people. I never understood why anyone would be ashamed to kiss their parents, and I didn't want to be the person who said "if only" or "I wish" if my mom or dad were to die unexpectedly. I have read too many Dear Abby letters to know that any goodbye could be the last.
Conclusion: appreciate the time you have with your loved ones to your fullest. Anyone who tells you you're a tool for wanting to do so should mind their own business and get their panties out of a twist.
I've been announcing on my Twitter and the CLV facebook group that I'll be selling some prints at the Bronx Heroes Comic Con. I'm going to be selling some non-CLV prints too, such as this baby Horus hawk (your name in hieroglyphs goes in the cartouche!) for only 5 smackeroos. If you're in the area, please swing by! Need more of an incentive? Admission is FREE.
It's also Free Comic Book Day, so I'm sure there will be some creators who are going to give some stuff away too.
Today and the past couple of days in New York have been really pleasant, so I'm going to go out and celebrate the fact that I am free to go out and enjoy it. Never take one's freedom for granted!
Oh and as for the other good news I was wanting to tell you all: I got a summer job working with the Egyptian collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Sorry I was ambiguous before, but I wanted to sign a written agreement before I announced anyting! I'll be in Beantown for 3 months and Edouard and I are excited about the idea of living in a different city for a while- especially one that neither of us knows especially well. Also, mah bestest friends Ava and JewNick live in Boston!
Movies watched while inking:
Ponette: A very moving but understated French movie about a 4 year old girl who loses her mother in a car accident and is coming to terms with the concept of life and death. Throughout the film, she does everything to to get her mother to return to her. Ponette was played by Victoire Thivisol who acted brilliantly and was the youngest actress to win the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival.
2001: A Space Odyssey: Another classic that I have been meaning to see but never got around to... I remember trying to get my dad to show it to me when I was really young (b/c I knew it was iconic) and he kept warning me that it would be "really boring." I think I made him stop it at 14 minutes. Well, this time I made it all the way through. However, despite the amazing visuals, let's face it: this movie is S-L-O-W. Also when I made it to the end I was like "wtf" and had to read the wikipedia article to make sure I didn't miss anything. I didn't. Apparently you're supposed to say "WTF" at the end.
Helen: A pretty accurate potrayal of extreme clinical depression but within a very poorly constructed narrative framework. In fact, the structure of the movie was so poor for me, that I felt like it almost ruined any redeeming qualities that it does have.
Arthur (1981): When I found out that a remake was being made of this movie, I decided I should go try to watch the original. I thought it was a fun watch and I wonder to what extent the remake is similar/different. Maybe I'll find out when the new version comes out on Netflix.