Uncovering Abydos Conference – Abydos – 125 Years of Excavations

Below Dissertation Fieldwork grantee, Amany Abd El Hameed shares her recap of the "Uncovering Abydos" conference, which ran from December 5th-7th December, 2023, in Cairo.

As part of the leading cultural and archaeological collaboration between Egypt and the world, the “Uncovering Abydos” conference was held in Cairo in collaboration between the Exploration Society of Egypt, the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and the Documentation Center of Egyptian Antiquities at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. The conference was hosted with the support of the British Council in El Agouza.

The conference aimed to explore the archaeological developments in the Abydos region over 125 years, starting from the initial excavations in 1899 led by William Matthew Flinders Petrie, up to the present day. Abydos, located in the Sohag Governorate, is a crucial site in the records of Egyptian archaeology, given the profound impact of its discoveries on understanding administration, society, and religion in ancient Egypt.

The conference addressed four main themes:

Knowledge Production: Reviewing significant archaeological discoveries and their impact on understanding ancient Egyptian culture.

Methodology: Highlighting methodological research developments in work at Abydos.

Archaeological Work History: Shedding light on the role of Egyptian workers in Abydos, often overlooked.

Restoration: Reviewing restoration efforts and techniques used to preserve antiquities in Abydos.

The event was conducted in a hybrid format, allowing participants to attend either in person or online. Prominent figures in the field participated in the conference, including Dr. Campbell Price, Professor Dr. Hossam Rafaat, Deputy President of Helwan University, Dr. Hisham ElLiethy, Head of the Egyptian Antiquities Documentation Sector at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Dr. Ahmed Rahima, Assistant Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Dr. Essam Nagy, the fieldwork and engagement manager at the Egypt exploration society – Cairo and others.

The conference also featured various activities, including a creative workshop for children on hieroglyphs and heritage preservation. and a roundtable about the Qufti workers “Labors”  who worked at the excavation site The second day focused on social participation and discussions on archival studies’ importance for archaeological sites and excavations.

The unique event showcased the positive signal of international cooperation in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and heritage preservation for Egypt. The organizers expressed gratitude to all participants and supporters and looked forward to more collaboration in the future. Notably, researcher Amany Abdel-Hameed, the main organizer of the conference, received the Exploration Society of Egypt’s Centenary Award for 2023-2024 and a Director’s Field Fund grant from the Penn Museum for 2023-2024.