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Tree Roots: an analytical ‘culture’ of economy and religion – case-study Egypt 2050-1550 BC.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TRACER (Tree Roots: an analytical ‘culture’ of economy and religion – case-study Egypt 2050-1550 BC.)

Reporting period: 2016-11-15 to 2018-11-14

"Indigenous and imported wood species were extensively used in Ancient Egypt for manufacturing objects of daily life and equipment for the afterlife, notably statuary and coffins. Despite the abundance and use throughout Pharaonic history, no global study has been carried out on this material. Indeed, in stark contrast to stone or metal objects whose material identification is always specified, research publications and museum displays most often accept a simple identification “wood”. When the type of wood used is specified, identification is rarely based on botanical analysis. As a result the entire history and archaeology of an art and medium are lost. With an innovative double methodology combining archaeometric and theoretical approaches, the TRACER project will analyze woodcraft as a societal ""tracer"" in Ancient Egypt during a key period of its history: the Middle Bronze Age (MBA). Analyze of woodcraft during this period which covers politically centralized (Middle Kingdom-MK) and decentralized period (Second Intermediate Period-SIP), will identify the impact of societal changes on wood crafts, closely linked with the political and religious development of the country. Two specific wood corpora will be investigated: 1) burial equipment from Upper and Middle Egypt, mainly coffins and statues; 2) settlement site finds from the largest town site with good preservation of organic material, Lahun, in Lower Egypt. Thus, the 2-years project TRACER will constitute the first move toward a previously unseen global project dedicated to wood in Ancient Egypt. The main objective of the TRACER project is to highlight how the specialized production in one material, carpentry, correlates with the other dimensions of its historical context (religious, political, cultural). The TRACER project will target woodworking as a test-case for assessing relations between social components in one archaeological well documented period of lower Nile Valley between 2050 and 1550 BC.



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At the end of these two years of the project, the expected results were particularly interesting and encouraging for further research on the issue. Collaborations with various specialists in the restoration, analysis and conservation of wooden furniture have been set up to develop future projects. The analyses were carried out on the collections of the British Museum as well as in the field, in Aswan and Deir el Medina. The training I acquired at the Jodrell Laboratory in Kew Garden and the ongoing partnerships allow me to be recognized as the reference in this field of research. Scientific collaborations with the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo are ongoing and have received all the support and recognition of the scientific institutions involved. The international symposium on wood economic networks in Egypt from Antiquity to the Islamic period will be organized at UCL in early 2020 and will be published as proceedings. This international conference will be associated with a first workshop that will bring together wood restorers and heads of missions working in Egypt to prepare the publication of a wood restoration protocol in Egypt to be translated into Arabic, English and French. This tool, which is sorely lacking in Egypt's archaeological landscape today, will be developed in collaboration with the Fitzwilliam Museum. Finally, the general public dissemination project From excavations to museum was a success. It was developed between Grange Primary School and the archaeological mission of Qubbet el Hawa under the direction of A. Jimenez-Serrano (University of Jaen, Spain).
The international symposium on wood economic networks in Egypt from Antiquity to the Islamic period will be organized at UCL in early 2020 and will be published as proceedings. This international conference will be associated with a first workshop that will bring together wood restorers and heads of missions working in Egypt to prepare the publication of a wood restoration protocol in Egypt to be translated into Arabic, English and French. This tool, which is sorely lacking in Egypt's archaeological landscape today, will be developed in collaboration with the Fitzwilliam Museum. Finally, the general public dissemination project From excavations to museum was a success. It was developed between Grange Primary School and the archaeological mission of Qubbet el Hawa under the direction of A. Jimenez-Serrano (University of Jaen, Spain).
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