Egyptology and the materiality of objects

Dr Katharina Zinn. 

I see myself as having broad historical, cultural, and religious interests that cross disciplines and time periods, having been trained both in Egyptology (with a focus on social aspects of ancient Egyptian history and society) and as a media-historian (PhD in Egyptology, University of Leipzig, Germany; MA in Egyptology, Media Science and Economy, University of Leipzig; Diploma of Library Sciences, University of applied sciences HTWK Leipzig). This is combined with a long-standing interest in interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to cultural phenomena, especially those of ancient Egypt. Knowledge and its rootedness in society is an area that I am keen to expand. This long-standing interest for interdisciplinary work is reflected in my PhD dissertation “Bibliotheken, Archive und Erinnerungskultur im Alten Ägypten” (Libraries, Archives, and the Organization of Collective Wisdom in Ancient Egypt).

Besides my ability to use a wide range of textual sources, I am especially interested in archaeology and material culture, mainly focusing on museum environments with several stints and projects in the Ägyptisches Museum der Universität Leipzig, the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, the Princeton University Art Museum (Department of Ancient Art) as well as the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge. Here in Lampeter, I am coordinating the joint project between UWTSD and Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery, resulting in annual exhibitions on the Lampeter Campus, which are curated by myself and incorporating our students (BA and MA).

My new post-doctoral research project sets out to explore the connection between knowledge, ritual, and bureaucracy in ancient Egypt. Focusing on ancient Egyptian temples, the aim of this project is to analyse how management of knowledge, performance of ritual, and bureaucratic routine were intertwined and how the patterns of their interconnection defined the self-understanding of the Ancient Egyptian elite.

I am working on a collaboration with the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery in Merthyr Tydfil which engages local communities and schools in Lampeter and Merthyr Tydfil. In this I am currently curating the museum’s Major Southey’s Collection, an excellent collection of Egyptian artefacts which was given to the museum by the family of the late Major Harry Hartley Southey. On the basis of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the museum and the University, artefacts from the collection were loaned to the University for a public exhibition in the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives.  This exhibition formed the basis of an outreach programme with local schools. This programme included a series of workshops which led to the development of teaching resources for the schools in the vicinity of the museum. This project will soon be expanded to include a web-presence which will make the teaching resources as well as the objects themselves available to an even wider audience.

I also participate in an annual exhibition (open to academics, students and wider public); and have agreed to  talk at  the Research seminar series of the Egypt Centre, Swansea about Egyptian objects in Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery (1st April 2014).

Funding has been sought from the British Academy.

I am develop the lins with ACCES, the subject specialist network for curators of collections of Egypt and the Sudan to become an Associate Member for UK

libraries, Pharaonic Egypt; Magic, Pharaonic Egypt; Literacy, Pharaonic Egypt; Khepry; Education, Pharaonic Egypt; Cults: divine. All in: Encyclopedia of Ancient World, ed. by Roger Bagnall, et.al. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012.

Temples, Palaces and Libraries – a search for their alliance between archaeological and textual evidence. In: Fifth Symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology: Palace and Temple – Architecture, Decoration, Ritual, ed. by Kate Spence and Rolf Gundlach. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2011. (Königtum, Staat und Gesellschaft früher Hochkulturen; 4,2). pp.181-202.

Altägyptische Tempelbibliotheken. In: Die Bibliothek des Weissen Klosters: Leben und Lesen in frühchristlichen Ägypten: Katalog zur Ausstellung im Papyrusmuseum der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek Wien. Wien: Phoibos, 2008.

Libraries, Archives, and the Organization of Collective Wisdom in Ancient Egypt. In: Proceedings of the VIIth Current Research in Egyptology Symposium, ed. by Maria Cannata and Tom Hardwick.