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June 11, 2016
1pm to 5pm
Classroom 2

4th Annual Mini-Seminar:
Pyramids of Ancient Egypt


Dr. David O'Connor
Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
"Will We Ever Know? The Mystery of Pyramid Origins"
David O'Connor is an archaeologist and art historian, much of whose fieldwork, in association with Dr. Matthew D. Adams (Institute of Fine Arts of New York University), has concentrated on early royal and elite monuments at Abydos in Upper Egypt. Formerly he was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Curator in Charge of the Egyptian section of the Penn Museum. In 1995 he was appointed Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University.

Dr. O'Connor has published many articles, and written or co-edited a number of books, most recently a monograph on the Old Kingdom town at Buhen, in Northern Nubia. Most relevant here is an extensive discussion of Egyptian royal monuments prior to the Old Kingdom in his 2009 book Abydos. Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris.

Between 2575 and 2450 BCE the monumental landscape of Egypt was transformed: in the vicinity of ancient Memphis four truly massive pyramids were provided intervisibility at sites today called Dahshur and Giza. These pyramids, built of thousands of huge stone blocks, averaged about 124.8 m. in height, Khufu's being the highest, at 146 m. The organizational effort implied was tremendous, while the emphasis of each pyramid upon the burial of a single burial bespoke the absolute power, but also the sagacity of the early kings entombed within them.

But where did the concept of the pyramid itself come from? And what did it mean to the early Egyptians, many or most of whom perhaps never saw these artificial mountains? Clearly, the "true pyramids" of Dahshur and Giza had ancestors and prototypes, most spectacularly the Step Pyramid of King Djoser at Saqqara (which may not have been originally conceptualized as a pyramid); in its final form it was about 60 m high, and antedated Snefru's pyramids by almost a century. but there were possibly even earlier pyramids or "proto-pyramids"; if so, their traces have not survived well, and much about them remain matters of debate. In his presentation, David O'Connor will survey these early data, assess the best possibilities for pyramid origins and focus upon the major impact the pyramid had upon Egyptian religious beliefs.

Dr. Adela Oppenheim
Curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Looking Back, Moving Forward: The Pyramid Complex of Senwosret III at Dashur"
Adela Oppenheim is a curator in the Egyptian Art Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She received her B.A. from New York University, M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts for a dissertation on the decorative program of the Senwosret III pyramid temple at Dahshur. She codirects (with Curator Dieter Arnold) the Museum’s excavations at the Middle Kingdom pyramid complex of Pharaoh Senwosret III at Dahshur, where her work focuses on the relief decoration of the king’s temples. Adela has written and lectured extensively on Middle Kingdom art and the results of the Dahshur excavations. She was co-curator (with Dorothea Arnold) of the exhibition Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, held at the Metropolitan Museum in fall/winter 2015-16 and one of the editors and authors of the accompanying catalogue.

Senwosret III’s pyramid complex is notable for features that derive from the nearby Djoser complex at Saqqara, as well as other Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom pyramid complexes. Yet Senwosret III’s officials and architects were responding to new and evolving ideas about kingship, religion, and the royal afterlife, all part of the major transformations that took place in Egyptian culture in the second half of the Twelfth Dynasty. This lecture will explore the retrospective features of the complex along with new advances. A variety of architectural forms found within the complex will be discussed. Highlighted will be the decorative programs of the royal temples and chapels; although fragmentary, many of these objects are masterpieces of Middle Kingdom relief decoration.

Dr. Stephen P. Harvey
Director, Ahmose and Tetisheri Project,
"The Later history of a Form: Abydos as a Pyramidal Landscape"

Since 1993, Stephen Harvey has been Director of the Ahmose and Tetisheri Project, which centers on excavation of the pyramidal complex of King Ahmose at Abydos, southern Egypt, under the aegis of the Pennsylvania-Yale- Institute of Fine Arts, NYU Expedition to Abydos. Harvey is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Stony Brook University. He received his Ph.D. in Egyptian Archaeology in 1998 from the University of Pennsylvania, and his B.A. in Archaeological Studies from Yale University in 1987. Harvey’s fieldwork in and around the pyramid complex of Ahmose (ca 1550-1525 BC) has resulted in major discoveries, including several previously undiscovered temples, the identification of the pyramid of Queen Tetisheri, and the analysis of thousands of fragments of the temples’ decorative program. His book on the excavations to date is forthcoming from the Oriental Institute Press, University of Chicago. In addition to extensive fieldwork at Abydos, Harvey has worked in Egypt at Giza and Memphis, as well as on archaeological projects in the United States, Syria (Tell es-Sweyhat), and Turkey (Gordion).

Harvey has held teaching and curatorial positions at a number of leading Egyptological institutions. From 2003-2006, Harvey was Assistant Professor of Egyptian Archaeology in the Oriental Institute and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago. In 2006, he led the reinstallation of the Picken Family Nubian Gallery of the Oriental Institute Museum, together with co-Curator Bruce Williams. From 1998 to 2002, Harvey was Assistant Director of the Institute of Egyptian Art & Archaeology and Assistant Professor in the Department of Art of the University of Memphis, TN. Harvey was also Assistant Curator for Egyptian Art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland from 1996 to 1998. He has been interviewed for and consulted on many international television documentaries, including “Building Pharaoh’s Chariot” (NOVA, PBS 2013), as well as “Egypt: Engineering an Empire” (History Channel) and “Egypt’s Golden Empire” (PBS), as well as on national news programs in the US. He has been invited to lecture at many institutions in the United States, as well as in Canada, England, Egypt, France, Australia, and New Zealand. Harvey has also been a popular lecturer for many years on tours to Egypt and the Near East sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum, the Explorer’s Club, the Petrie Museum in London, and the Archaeological Institute of America. He has also taught several courses for the Bloomsbury Summer School in London and in Egypt. In February 2017 he will lead an “Absolute Egypt” tour for the Archaeological Institute of America, his ninth trip to Egypt for that organization.

ARCE-PA Mini-Seminar Special Pricing 
(paypal registration button below)

Pre-Registration                        Day of Event
ARCE members, All Students w/id,
UPenn Faculty, Staff, & Museum staff    $8.00                                     $10.00 

Museum Members                                  $13.00                                    $15.00

General Admission                                 $18.00                                    $20.00

Pre-registration Prices
Prices in effect until 6/8/16


    *Entrance fees for most lectures are $10 for the general public, $7 for Penn Museum members and UPenn Staff & Faculty, $5 for Students with ID, and FREE for ARCE-PA members and children under 12 (Unless otherwise stated)

    *Please note: ARCE-PA does not sell tickets for the monthly lectures. All entry fees will be taken at the door of the lecture venue at the ARCE-PA table (unless otherwise stated). 


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