West Midlands Egyptology Society

Home » Talks: 2017 – 2018

Talks: 2017 – 2018

Schedule of Talks for the 2017/2018 Season.

All events on this page are subject to the prices stated on the ‘Membership’ page unless specified otherwise. Please use the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page if you have any queries

 Wednesday 13th December 2017 – Christmas Party – visit here for details

Wednesday 10th January 2018 – TBC:  A House of Mummies: Joseph Mayer’s Egyptian Museum in 19th Century Liverpool

Speaker: Ashley Cooke

Speaker Bio: 

Ashley Cooke is Senior Curator of Antiquities at National Museums Liverpool. He was lead curator for the permanent gallery Ancient Egypt: a journey through time that opened at World Museum on 28 April 2017, the U.K.’s second-largest Ancient Egypt gallery after the British Museum. He was a co-curator of the touring exhibition Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed held in Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool between 2015 and 2017. He started excavating in Egypt in 1997 and has worked at Rifeh, Saqqara, Tell Abqa’in, the Valley of the Kings and Zawiyet Umm el-Rackham. He studied archaeology and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, gaining a PhD in 2006. His research interests include tomb architecture in the Old Kingdom and the history of collecting.


In 1852 the goldsmith and collector Joseph Mayer opened the Egyptian Museum at 8 Colquitt Street, Liverpool. His aim was to create a place for those with no opportunity of visiting the great collection of antiquity in the British Museum. The large Georgian house was filled from top to bottom with antiquities, including eight mummies. The museum was incredibly popular but by 1867 the expanding collection had outgrown the premises and Mayer donated his collection to the newly extended Liverpool Free Public Museum (now World Museum). The collection grew and by 1888 it was described by Amelia Edwards as the most important collection of Egyptian antiquities in England after the British Museum.

In this talk we shall delve into the world of Victorian collecting, taking a closer look at how Joseph Mayer formed the collections of his Egyptian Museum. We’ll follow the story through to the Second World War when World Museum was devastated by a fire; and how for three generations Mayer’s mummy collection remained hidden from the public until in 2017 with the opening of the Mummy Room at World Museum.

Wednesday 14th February 2018

Speaker: Dr Kathryn E. Howley

Speaker Bio: Dr Kathryn Howley grew up in Birmingham, where she was fascinated with all things ancient Egypt from a young age. She did her undergraduate studies at the University of Oxford, where she read Classics and Egyptology, before moving to America to complete a PhD in Egyptology at Brown University. She specializes in the art and archaeology of ancient Nubia, and is currently directing a new field project in Sudan at the temple of Sanam, built by the 25th Dynasty king Taharqa. In addition to archaeology, Kathryn has been interested in museums ever since she did her school work experience placement at the Birmingham Science Museum; while living in the US she worked at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where she made the acquaintance of literally thousands of shabtis. She is now the Budge Junior Research Fellow in Egyptology at Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge, and trying to make sense of why other scholars aren’t as enchanted by shabtis as she thinks they should be.

Talk Title: Does size matter? The materiality of shabtis
Talk Abstract:
Shabtis were one of the most enduring forms of ancient Egyptian visual culture, used in burials over the course of millennia, and are now one of the most numerous Egyptian objects to be found in museums. Modern audiences find these small, personified objects irresistible, all so similar and yet each with their individual differences. However, shabtis’ popularity on the antiquities market has contributed to their status among Egyptologists as the domain of collectors, of limited interest to archaeology.

We know, however, that modern, Western collectors are not the only ones to have felt this way about shabtis. Historical records and archaeological evidence show us that throughout time and space, shabtis have been prized and collected by such diverse groups as 17th century Dutch adventurers and the élite of ancient Carthage. These people were not collecting shabtis for their religious function–why, then, have these figurines continued to prove so appealing?

Art historical and psychological research has much to tell us about human reactions to miniature, personified figures. Not only does handling such figurines produce similar, positive responses across cultures, but the pleasurable effect it has upon humans can even be measured in our brains. These new understandings of how we react to shabtis can explain why they are so popular today, and in the past: but if such reactions are universal, surely the Egyptians would have had similar experiences! This talk will argue that one of the reasons for shabtis’ enduring importance in Egyptian funerary religion, and for their stylistic development, is due to their aesthetic rather than religious qualities. Shabtis’ modern appeal should not be dismissed by Egyptologists, but rather embraced as important evidence that helps us to understand the ubiquity and significant visual impact of these objects in ancient Egypt.

 Wednesday 14th March 2018

Speaker: Dr Aidan Dodson

Speaker Bio: Dr Aidan Dodson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology & Archaeology at the University of Bristol, and a former Simpson Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo. A Fellow the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a former Chairman of Trustees of the Egypt Exploration Society, he is the author of over 300 articles and reviews, and twenty books, including Afterglow of Empire: Egypt from the fall of the New Kingdom to the Saite renaissance (AUC Press, 2012).

Talk Title: Afterglow of Empire

Talk Abstract: The last decades of the New Kingdom witnessed a precipitous decline in Egypt’s fortunes, the country slipping from a great power, with possessions stretching from the confluence of the Nile in the south to the Euphrates in the north, to one that had difficulty in even maintaining internal cohesion. This evening we will explore the Third Intermediate Period that followed this collapse, during which patches of prosperity alternated with internal divisions and even civil war, before unity was restored from the unexpected direction of Upper Nubia.

Wednesday 11th April 2018

Speaker: Jacky Finch

Speaker Bio: Jacky Finch was a senior Science teacher before she decided to study under Prof Rosalie David at Manchester University’s KNH Centre for Forensic and Medical Egyptology. She did an MSc then PhD completing in 2009. She had 5 years as a Visiting Scientist at KNH but now she is an Independent Researcher. She has published in the Lancet and in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics. She even appeared on television for France Channel 2. Their programme makers came over to Manchester to interview me and discuss her PhD. As well as speaking at conferences she has spoken to societies on a wide range of topics. She is currently researching for a book due out end of 2018.

Talk Title: Walk like an Egyptian : The dawn of prosthetic medicine

 Talk Abstract: The ancient Egyptian embalmers made every effort to send the deceased into the Afterlife with a complete body. The importance of this is attested in religious texts. The lecture first shows the variety of embalmers’ restorations that have been found on Egyptian mummies including the two rather special examples, two right big toe restorations. Academic papers had been written about these possibly being functional toes, that is, they were used during the lifetime of the deceased. They showed signs of wear and their design was certainly suggesting that these indeed could have been effective replacements for missing toes. One example was found strapped onto the foot of its female owner.

Experimental archaeology is a complex process as the lecture points out. By co-opting contemporary big toe amputees and making replicas to the same design and testing them in a gait  laboratory I was able to show that both examples functioned very well indeed. The importance of this research puts the dawn of prosthetic medicine firmly in the hands of the ancient Egyptians and back some 600 years earlier than first thought.

 Wednesday 9th May 2018

Speaker: Dr Cédric Gobeil

Speaker Bio: My titles:

Director of the Egypt Exploration Society

Field Director of the French Archaeological Mission of Deir el-Medina (IFAO)

Associate Professor in the History Department of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Cédric was born in Canada in Quebec City. Cédric did my undergraduate studies at the Université Laval in Quebec City and he left for the Université Paris IV-Sorbonne in 1998, where he did all my graduate and postgraduate studies. In July 2008, he obtained a PhD in Egyptology from the same university. In September 2008, he entered the IFAO as a foreign scientific member (specializing in Egyptian archaeology). In 2010, he was awarded a two-years postdoctoral fellowship from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to be spent as an associate scholar at the Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada (UQAM). In 2011, he was appointed Director of the French archaeological mission of Deir el-Medina (IFAO). From 2011 to 2016, he worked as a full time archaeologist at the IFAO. Since 2011, he am also adjunct professor in the History Department at the UQAM.

Apart from his own excavation in Deir el-Medina, he is also working for the French missions of Coptos (IFAO/Université Lumière-Lyon II) and Balat/Ayn Asil (IFAO), as well as for the Great Hypostyle Hall Project in the Temple of Karnak, a joint mission of the University of Memphis and the UQAM. Over the years, he gave many lectures around the world on his work and published many scientific papers in different journals. Nowadays, his researches are essentially focused on household archaeology and ancient Egyptian daily life.

In August 2016, Cédric was appointed Director of the Egypt Exploration Society in London.

Talk Title: Recent discoveries of the French mission in Deir el-Medina. Highlights from the past seasons.

 Talk Abstract: The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the French archaeological concession in Deir el-Medina. Contrary to general belief, the ongoing exploration of Deir el-Medina by the IFAO has recently shown that this site is far from being over. Rather, it suggests that many secrets still wait to be unveiled at this site so important to our knowledge of ancient Egyptian daily life. Partly thanks to new technologies, new finds are indeed made every year. While reviewing the main activities that have taken place during the past seasons, this lecture will highlight the most interesting and newest discoveries made by our team since 2011.

 Wednesday 13th June 2018

Speaker: Beverley Rogers

Speaker Bio:  Bev Rogers has a degree in Egyptology from Swansea University and is currently undertaking a Masters at the University of Winchester in Death, Religion & Culture. Her research interests include the historical and modern display of Egyptian mummies, the history of early Egyptian antiquity collections and ancient Egyptian funerary customs. Bev is currently writing a book on the Reverend William MacGregor – a Victorian collector and Egyptologist from Tamworth in Staffordshire.

Talk Title: The MacGregor Collection

Talk Abstract: In 1922, one of the finest and largest collections of Egyptian Antiquities ever to have been held in private hands was offered for sale through the auction house of Sotheby’s in London.  The event, widely publicized through both press and word of mouth, attracted the attention of Egyptologists, museum curators, private collectors and agents, all vying to own a piece of this world famous compendium of ancient Egyptian artefacts. The man behind this magnificent collection has, however, remained one of Egyptology’s lesser known characters, despite playing an important and active role in contributing to what is considered to be the Golden Age of Egyptology.

The Reverend William MacGregor (1842–1937), vicar and benefactor of St Editha’s in Tamworth, Staffordshire, was a prominent member of the Egypt Exploration Society and of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Archaeology.  He helped finance many excavations and frequently assisted actively in the field.

Through his involvement in this flourishing period of Egyptology, MacGregor was afforded rare opportunities to amass a fine and unique collection of antiquities and his museum became instrumental in promoting the field of Egyptology.  Whilst the collection is now scattered around the world, items such as the ivory label of King Den in the British Museum and ‘MacGregor Man’ in the Ashmolean Museum, still educate and fascinate us today with many pieces regarded as important examples of Egyptian art.

 If you are an Egyptologist/Archaeologist or an independent researcher within these field areas and you would like an opportunity to speak to WMES, please email our Secretary at secretarywmes@outlook.com. We always welcome all students and researchers regardless of experience. We provide a platform for your research and offer a network of support. We select speakers based on mutual interest from our members. Unfortunately, due to financial restraints we cannot pay international speakers unless you are planning to attend the UK or currently study here.




  1. pibarrington says:

    Is there any way to get a transcript of these events since I am in Los Angeles and can’t get there physically without a year and a half’s worth of preparation, lol?


    • Hi there.
      Sincere apologies on the delay in replying to you! Since the election of the new committee we have been looking into ways to improve the website and one of these was to provide ‘Talk Summaries’ for members and non-members who might miss talks they were interested in. At the moment the content and appearance of these talks depends on the speakers wishes. Some of the research presented to us is still very new and therefore cannot be published ahead of time, but we have written up talks we had in September and October with the November talk being written at the moment. This will undergo approval from the speaker before appearing on the website. Please do keep checking back for more! We will advertise new content as it appears here on our Facebook and Twitter pages too.
      Thanks so much for your interest in the society and hopefully one day we may get to meet you physically!
      – WMES Committee.


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