This mini-seminar delves into the question of what it meant to be a foreigner in Ancient Egypt. Following a general background discussion of the topic by Dr. JJ Shirley, Dr. Kate Liszka and Dr. Beth Ann Judas will present their work on two distinct types of foreigners, the Medjay and the Keftiu respectively.
These particular groups of foreigners each played an important role in ancient Egyptian society and held special status within the Egyptian world-view. The day will also include a tour of the Egyptian Gallery at the Penn Museum that focuses on images of foreigners and what they do – or do not – tell us about the place of a foreigner in ancient Egyptian society.
Dr. JJ Shirley: University of Pennsylvania/Journal of Egyptian History (Brill); Visiting Researcher/Managing Editor
"What it Meant to be a Foreigner in Ancient Egypt"
Understanding what it meant to be a foreigner in ancient Egypt involves first understanding what it meant to be Egyptian. In this short introduction to the mini-seminar Dr. Shirley will sketch an overview of what the “known world” was ancient Egyptians, including who were the major groups that Egypt was in contact with, how the ancient Egyptian differentiated between themselves and other peoples, and the ways in which this difference was manifested in image and text.
JJ Shirley received her PhD in Egyptian Art and Archaeology from The Johns Hopkins University in 2005. She has taught Egyptian Art, Archaeology and Language at the University of Michigan, University of Wales, Swansea, and most recently as a Visiting Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, and has been the Managing Editor for the Journal of Egyptian History, published by Brill, since 2007.
Shirley’s research and recent articles have dealt primarily with New Kingdom administration, from studies of particular officials and their families to understanding how socio-political changes affected the organization of bureaucratic power. She is currently working on her first book, "Administration and its Social Context in New Kingdom Egypt: New Perspectives on Bureaucracy and the Culture of Officialdom in the mid-18thDynasty."
Dr. Kate Liszka: Princeton University, Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows
"From Pastoral Nomads to Policemen: Ethnicity and Identity of the Medjay in Ancient Egypt"
The Medjay were a people living on the fringes of Ancient Egyptian society. Originating in the Eastern Desert along what is now the borderland between Sudan and Egypt, the Medjay gradually became integrated into Ancient Egyptian society over a two thousand year period. The roles that they played have perplexed Egyptologists and archaeologists for the last century because the sources seem to indicate that they could be either pastoral nomads or policemen, either Nubians or Egyptians, and either foreign enemies or Egyptian war heroes.
Over the centuries and millennia, the word Medjay changed from referring to a desert nomadic group to become known as an elite fighting force who worked for the Pharaoh. This lecture is an introduction to the diverse textual, artistic, and archaeological sources that help us identify how Medjay evolved from an ethnic group to Egypt’s most important police force.
Kate Liszka is a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University, where she lectures in the department of Art and Archaeology. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, with a specialization in Egyptology and Egyptian Archaeology. Liszka has also taught at Loyola University and Roosevelt University in Chicago, and for ten years, she was a lecturer with the International Classroom at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Liszka’s doctoral dissertation, upcoming book, and articles have focused on the question of an ancient Nubian people called the Medjay and an archaeological culture called the Pangrave people. She has grappled, moreover, with the question of how the Ancient Egyptian state incorporated different types of Nubians into their bureaucracy. While a fellow at Princeton, she will continue to work on these topics, examining how textual, artistic, and archaeological sources, as well as the intellectual backgrounds of researchers, influenced ancient expressions of ethnicity and scholarly perceptions of ancient ethnicity.
Dr. Beth Ann Judas: ARCE-PA Chapter President
"Keftiu and Griffins: An Exploration of the Liminal in the Egyptian Worldview"
The concept of liminal space or liminal people within the ancient Egyptian supernatural universe is often defined by boundaries and horizons where ma'at and isfet could potentially meet. In the physical world, it is where borders between the known and the unknown lands meet.
The Keftiu, or the Late Bronze Age (LBA) Aegean population, are an example of a liminal people in early New Kingdom Egypt. The Keftiu, an example of "good" foreigners who inhabit a liminal space between ma'at and isfet, are associated with Horus, a god who is connected with limitless boundaries, via the Keftian Horus.
In this lecture, Dr. Judas will discuss the relationship between the Keftiu, Aegean-style griffins, and the concept of liminal peoples in early New Kingdom Egypt. The use of the Aegean-type griffin, which was part of the LBA religious iconography as a companion animal to a female Minoan deity, is introduced at the very beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and is evidenced on the axe of Ahmose as well as at Tell el Dab'a. The Keftiu's combined associations with the Aegean-style griffin and Horus may solidify their definition as a liminal people in the early New Kingdom Egyptian world-view.
Beth Ann Judas received her B.A. in Anthropology (with a concentration in Archaeology) and Classical Studies at Ripon College, Wisconsin and her M.A. in Classical Archaeology at Florida State University. She holds her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania from the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World (AAMW) Graduate Group.
Her focus at UPENN was on Egypt (Middle and New Kingdoms) and Bronze Age Greece. Judas' main focus lies in the study of interconnections between Middle and New Kingdom Egypt and the Bronze Age Aegean which resulted in her dissertation, “Late Bronze Age Aegean Ceramics in the Nile Valley: An Analysis of Idea and Practice in the Archaeological Record."
She has pursued several seasons of fieldwork in Egypt (Penn – Yale Expedition, Abydos), eastern Crete (Chrysokamino, Halosmenos). More recently, Beth Ann was a member of the Cornell Halai and East Lokris Project (CHELP) in Greece, a site that flourished from the Neolithic to the Byzantine period, for which she was the registrar and storeroom manager. Beth Ann has taught at The Florida State University, Villanova University, and University of Pennsylvania. She is the President of the American Research Center in Ancient Egypt- Pennsylvania Chapter.
Gallery Tour by Senior Docent Esther Payne