Something that can be hard to remember when thinking about the ancient world is how vibrantly, even garishly, coloured much of the elite culture actually was. My mental image of Greek statuary stubbornly remains that of pure white marble, even though I've seen many representations of "what it once looked like". Despite knowing better, it was still almost a shock to see Assyrian relief carvings in a recent British Museum exhibition illuminated with the colours they were once painted. So one of the joys of Ancient Egyptian artifacts and architecture is that often you don't need to studiously remind yourself of the colours, because they are still there to see! (Click title to read more ...)

The Naming of Kings

The naming of Kings is a difficult matter, it isn't just one of your holiday games … No, wait, that's cats (and my apologies to T. S. Eliot) - but the naming and titling of an Egyptian king was also a rather complicated thing. (Click title to read more ...)

Peace, Calm and a War God

My bonus article for August is available on Patreon for subscribers at the Khery-Hebet tier and is about the temple at el-Tod: Peace, Calm and a War God. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of my patrons for their support, it's greatly appreciated!

Changing Over Time

A fragment of limestone depicting the god Montu.

Sometimes you hear Ancient Egyptian culture treated as if it was a static thing, staying the same over the whole course of its history - someone (often in a documentary voiceover!) making statements about how "the Ancient Egyptians" did things as if all of them did the same from the time of Narmer through to the fall of Cleopatra some 3000 years later. This is, of course, nonsense - over the course of three thousand years a lot changes, even in a culture that made such a point of (talking about) doing things the way they had always been done. (Click title to read more ...)

From a God to a Man

My bonus article for July is available on Patreon for my subscribers at all tiers and is about Imhotep: From a God to a Man. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of my patrons for their support, it's greatly appreciated!

The Four Legged Bird

Many years ago I went to a talk about the birds of Ancient Egypt and about identifying their species from hieroglyphs & art. Sadly I can't remember the name of the speaker for sure but I think it must've been John Wyatt. What I do remember is that he showed us a picture of a Predynastic object decorated with rows of animals, each row a different type of animal. And he pointed out the row with the long-legged long-necked birds, and told us that in every example of this motif the second from the front is the "four legged bird"! (Click title to read more ...)

And She Blew Through the Towns Like the Hot Desert Wind

Come! Listen! I shall tell you a tale from days long ago, so long ago that not only was it before your mother was born, but also before the birth of her mother and her mother's mother too. (Click title to read more ...)

Building for Eternity

It's not often you get to stand in a place where something was done first, but that's exactly what you're doing if you stand in the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara. This vast structure, which includes the Step Pyramid itself as well as enclosure walls and dummy building facades, is the first ever monumental dressed stone building in the world. It's difficult to fully grasp how awe-inspiringly new this would've looked to the people of the time. (Click title to read more ...)