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Spring 2011 Lecture Series -
International Scholars Forum -
Lectures 73 and 74

The California Museum of Ancient Art is proud to present its SPRING 2011 SERIES - "QUEENS AND COMMONERS: RELIGIOUS PRACTICE IN ANCIENT EGYPT." The series features two fine Egyptologists, each a dynamic speaker: Dr. Jacquelyn Williamson and Eric Wells. The lectures will be held at Piness Auditorium inside the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 3663 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles on Mondays, June 6 and June 20 at 7:30pm.

On Monday, June 6, Dr. Jacquelyn Williamson will share her latest research, "QUEEN NEFERTITI'S LOST SUN TEMPLE: ROYAL WOMEN AND THEIR ROLE IN THE REIGN OF PHARAOH AKHENATEN." After introducing the Amarna Period, the speaker will examine the queen's traditional role in ancient Egyptian society and how that role appears to have changed during the rule of King Akhenaten.

Did Queen Nefertiti guarantee fertility in Ancient Egypt?

When Akhenaten began a new religion based on one, gender-neutral god — the Aten or sun disk — he removed an essential element of fertility imparted by traditional Egyptian goddesses. In their place, he substituted his wife and daughters to guarantee and celebrate the regeneration of the Egyptian cosmos.

The second part of Dr. Williamson's illustrated lecture will focus on her recent excavation of the "lost" sun temple of Queen Nefertiti at Amarna, the ancient city of Akhenaten in Middle Egypt. An overview of the art, text, and architecture of the site will be used to explain the nuanced role that Nefertiti played in the new religion of the Aten.

Jacquelyn Williamson is an American Council of Learned Societies Post Doctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD in Egyptology from Johns Hopkins in 2008. She has excavated at Amarna under Dr. Barry Kemp and has published a number of articles on her research. At present, Dr. Williamson is writing two separate books including The Sunshade of Nefertiti in Tell el-Amarna.

On Monday, June 20, Eric Wells will present an illustrated talk, "DOGS AND DEVOTION: PRIVATE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE IN ANCIENT EGYPT." Egypt was dominated by huge temple and tomb complexes. However, these monuments were exclusive places dedicated to the gods and the dead, where the average person could not enter. This being the case, how exactly did the average Egyptian envision divinity and how did he or she attempt to communicate with gods and supernatural spirits?

A Temple or 'House of the God' was not for public worship

By surveying religious material from temples as well as votive objects created by private individuals, we can see just how different temple-based religious rites and private religion were. Votive objects from three sites — Asyut, in Middle Egypt, Deir el Medina, in Upper Egypt and Pi-Ramesse in the delta — will be used to illustrate the personal religion of ordinary people. Private individuals, who were not allowed to participate in temple-based religion, adopted multiple unique strategies in their attempts to connect with divine forces. Animals, ancestors, and even specific features of the landscape were seen as divine manifestations that could be approached and receive offerings in private religious practice.

Eric Wells is a PhD candidate in Egyptology at UCLA. In his dissertation, he examines both the text and iconography of non-elite religious practices during the Ramesside Period in ancient Egypt. In 2010, his initial findings were presented at American Research Center in Egypt's Annual Meeting. His paper received the award for the Best Student Paper.

We are honored to have two Egyptology experts participating in our International Scholars Forum. Join us this spring for a remarkable series. Mark these dates on your calendar and be sure to attend: