Annual Report 2015-16
Click here to download a copy of the 2015-6 President's report, Chairman's report and Chairman's outlook report
Click here to download a copy of the2015-6 Honorary Secretary's report
Clikck here to download a copy of the 2016 AGM Minutes
Presidents Report 2015-16 (Professor Alan Lloyd)
It is a strange time for things Egyptian and Egyptological. On the one hand, the political situation in Egypt itself is far from good with Islamist threats placing recurrent pressures on the country which force the government into draconian measures that do nothing to promote tourism, travel, or fieldwork in the country. On the other hand, for the Egyptologist there is much exciting material emerging in various parts of the country, in particular the spectacular results of the marine archaeology research along the north-western Delta which provides such vivid insights into Late Period and Greco-Roman Egypt – and there is no reason to believe that that is the end of the matter!
Within the United Kingdom the subject continues to flourish mightily. The universities continue to teach the subject, despite recurrent threats to budgets, and conferences organized by museums and universities are well attended and do much to disseminate the results of recent research. Within this context Thames Valley is very much ahead of the game. The fund-raising study day with Barry Kemp in July brought in a hundred attendees and raised over £3000, no mean feat in these straitened times.
Funding is, of course, a recurrent problem, but it is a problem which goes back to the very beginnings of the subject in this country. It is a sad, but brutal, fact that we can only have what we can afford, and that holds true of the big and not so big institutions. Membership is, therefore, for many of us a crucial issue. Even the Egypt Exploration Society has serious problems at present in this area with numbers dropping year by year and the age profile looking far from promising. However, Thames Valley is to be congratulated in seeing quite the opposite situation with its current numbers growing. This may have something to do with the excellent programmes of lectures which it manages to put together. The last year has been no exception with coverage by excellent speakers ranging from architecture, mortuary religion, daily life, literature, history, museology, and royal iconography, and I was delighted to hear that attendance in January and June was at record levels.
All the signs are that Thames Valley will continue to flourish and serve its members well. I look forward to reading of another successful year in 2017.
Chairman's Report 2015-16 (John Billman)
It is once again my pleasure to report on a very successful year for the society, with a growth in both membership and attendance. The strength of the society was particularly evident in the summer, usually a quieter period, with an overflowing lecture theatre for Lucia Gahlin in June and 107 bookings for our largest ever study day in July. This event with Professor Barry Kemp will surely be remembered for a long time, and still more importantly raised no less than £3200 for Barry's ongoing work in el-Amarna. Meanwhile in the Spring we enjoyed another sell-out trip organized by Beth Asbury, on this occasion to the splendid new gallery at Eton College to view part of the Eton Myers Egyptology collection with its curator.
The ongoing strength of our society remains in no small part due to the marketing work undertaken by Francesca Jones, which when combined with the local third-party Egyptology
classes continues to draw new members to the society. I hope that the multiple recent news stories on ancient Egypt, the current Sunken Cities exhibition at the British Museum and the forthcoming television programme on Tutankhamun will all also contribute to the ongoing and strong interest in the history and culture of ancient Egypt and TVAES. Unfortunately, this interest domestically is in contrast to falling numbers actually visiting Egypt. As someone who has spent almost the entire summer in Egypt I feel this drop in touristic visitation to the Nile Valley is unjustified. The view from outside Egypt and within it is often contradictory, the government is certainly very focused on security and personally I found Luxor to be very quiet and peaceful this year. Meanwhile it is pleasing to see that the opening of new tombs and sites remains high on the priority list of the Egyptian government as the Ministry of Antiquities struggles to meet its obligations with falling revenue from ticket sales.
Our committee is now a wonderful mix of both new and long-serving members. However sadly one of our founding members Jane Ledger has indicated that for health reasons she will not be standing for the committee again this year. Jane has carried out many roles during her 22 years of service on the committee, in particular providing transport for the speakers to and from the station, a role unseen by many members but vital to the smooth operation of the day. Personally and on behalf of the committee and the society I would like to thank Jane for her service to the society over such a long period of time.
Finally, as you may have read in the main email, Anette Olivier for personal reasons has decided that she is unable to stand again as Honorary Secretary, although she will remain on the committee. Honorary Secretary is one of the most challenging roles in the society and I have been very impressed with Anette's progress in getting to grips with this role in the last 13 months. Once again on behalf of us all I would like to thank Anette for her commitment and hard work over this last year, and also for staying on the committee at a difficult time.
Chairman's Outlook 2016-17 (John Billman)
By now most members will have already seen the programme for the forthcoming year and I hope that members are already looking forward to another varied and stimulating lecture programme. We are also planning two additional events, a July study day on Hierakonpolis with Dr Renée Friedman (and team members), and a spring visit to Leiden to see the new galleries, special exhibition, exclusive lectures and more, additional details of these events will be announced later in the year.
For those interested in ancient Egypt our own events continue to be supported by a vibrant local ecosystem of WEA and University of Oxford classes in Egyptology. Indeed, there are two courses in Reading and one in Wargrave running this term alone, as well as classes, lectures and exhibitions further afield in Oxford, London and elsewhere. Once again I encourage members to take advantage of this wealth of provision and participate in both our own events and others over the forthcoming season and at TVAES I look forward to more full lecture theatres in the year ahead.
Honorary Secretary's Report for the year 2015/2016
At the start of the new academic year, we can look back over the last year and a successful programme. It was good to welcome new members to our Society as well as the numerous visitors who came through the door. We enjoyed the company of speakers such as Lucia Gahlin who is an old friend of the Society and Professor Barry Kemp who once again, attracted large numbers of members and visitors for the Study Day on Amarna. We also had a few laughs with the presentation by Helen Steward who brought ancient Egyptian stories to life. There was the successful visit to the Eton arranged by Beth. We were privileged to have a talk presented to us by our very own Beth on her work at the Pitt Rivers Museum.
Now moving on to our new academic year. First of all I would like to congratulate John for compiling once again an excellent programme for 2016-2017. He works hard to find speakers and I can imagine it is not always easy. It takes time and effort, so thank you, John.
There are definitely a few talks lined up which can't be missed. We can look forward to a talk by Alan Lloyd in December on "Decoding Egyptian Art" and of course the Philip Wickens Memorial Lecture on Saqqara's abandoned tombs by the well-known friend of the Society, Dr Yvonne Harper. Other speakers to look forward to are Dr Roland Enmarch, Dr Nigel Strudwick, Dr Geoffrey Killian and Dr Luigi Prada – just a few of the long list of well-known speakers lined up for 2016-2017.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the team for their hard work of the last year:
John for an excellent choice of speakers; Erica who kept us on our toes not to overspend on the budget; Francesca for her hard work to promote the work of our Society. How can we forget the numerous cups of teas and coffees Beth provided? Nothing misses Griselda's eyes on the register desk; Anne that is always happy to help where help is needed and Nick who took control of the technological part of the lectures when John wasn't around. All I can say is thank you, Team, you are the best.
Unfortunately, I would not be able to continue my task as Honorary Secretary due to personal circumstances so I would wish our new Hon Sec all the best. I would also like to thank you, the members, for your continuous love of Ancient Egypt. Without you, the Society would probably ceased to exist a long time ago. So, once again, thank you for your support and remember, keep on attending lectures.
Annual Report 2014-15
For a pdf of all 2015-5 reports click here
Presidents Report 2014-15 (Professor Alan Lloyd)
We can once more look back with considerable pride over the current year's work of the Society. Membership and attendance continue to grow, illustrating the continued and growing capacity of Egyptology to attract professionals and amateurs alike. As usual, the lecture programme has been very full and has covered a wide range of Egyptological research, including fieldwork, literature, technology, social history, Nubian archaeology, and analysis of archives. It is particularly good to see Viv Davies' lecture on F.W. Green whose enormous volume of outstanding, and largely unpublished, work is only now being recognised and made available. The lecture on the Eloquent Peasant reveals how far we have come in developing a sophisticated approach to Egyptian literature in which Richard Parkinson of Oxford has played such an important role. The issue of radiocarbon dating and Egyptian chronology is also a most welcome topic since there have been recurrent, if low-key, doubts about the reliability of the canonical chronology of Ancient Egypt which we all know and love. How far that needs to be rejigged remains to be seen.
In the light of this exciting panorama of success it is gratifying to be able to record that our Donation Fund has been re-established and re-commenced donations this year. The importance of this aspect of the Society's work cannot be overestimated. It is true that we do not have large sums of money to allocate, but in the current financial climate, where mosaic funding for projects has become very much the norm, our contributions can make a real difference.
All these activities have been taking place against a background of growing insecurity in the Middle East. Even in Egypt this has led to the cancellation of archaeological work at some sites, though it still remains possible to conduct field research in many parts of the country, particularly Upper Egypt where important discoveries continue to be made. However, the activities of the unspeakable ISIS group in the destruction of ancient sites in Iraq and Syria serve as a stark warning of the dangers to which ancient sites in Egypt may yet fall victim. Whilst some aspects of the Sisi regime may not be palatable, we can only be grateful for the determination it has shown in trying to counter the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the country. We have to accept that divisions within Egypt are so wide and deep that control by the armed forces is the only obstacle to the onset of rampant chaos which can be in no-one's best interest.
Chairman's Report 2014-15 (John Billman)
I am delighted to write that it has been another very successful year for the society with growing membership and increasing attendance at our monthly lectures. This success does not allow room for compliancy, and in her first year in the role of Marketing and Publicity our committee member Francesca Jones is making real progress at increasing awareness of the society, a task towards which we can all contribute. At the same time as the lecture programme we have continued with our Hieroglyphs provision, enjoyed a wonderful Sunday Members Miscellany in July and we held a very successful South Asasif fund-raising study day in April. In parallel to all of this we continue to both foster and benefit from an eco-system of third-party continuing education in our subject, and indeed more generally Reading remains a bastion in cultural studies adult learning that few towns or cities its size can match or surpass.
I am writing this from Luxor at the end of another summer based in Egypt. In almost every
way life and work here is running as normal, and once again I have felt very safe living here
most of the summer. Activities far away in the Sinai, and the failed terrorist attempt closer to
home at Karnak have resulted in increased security and a reversal of the recent modest
increase in tourism. This in turn deprives the Ministry of Antiquities of funds it sorely needs,
not to mention the hardship of the local populace. Nevertheless many foreign missions to
continue to work in most areas (except the Western Desert) and our Donation Fund helps
towards important archaeological work in the country.
As you will read in the next report, it was with sadness that I accepted the resignation of our
Honorary Secretary Gill Woods recently. This was Gill's second period of office in the role
and on both occasions Gill's conscientious and knowledgeable contributions have been a
tremendous asset to the society. I would like to thank Gill on behalf of all of us for all her
hard work during the past years.
Secretary's Report (Gill Woods)
The Society has had another extremely successful year. Membership has increased and as a
result of that, and attracting more visitors, attendances at meetings were extremely good, with
all the seats virtually taken at most of the talks.
Again, the Chairman arranged an eclectic programme covering a variety of subjects from the
scientific on the transformation of images by the use of Reflectance Transformation Imaging
and the development of a new chronology for ancient Egypt as a result of radiocarbon dating
to those with a more geographical flavour: the journeys of Egyptologist F.W. Green in Kush;
the identity of the Nubians and their relationship with Egypt and vice-versa and the
investigation of archaeological remains in the Kharga Oasis. Other topics included the
treasures of royal women of the Middle Kingdom, family matters in the late Old Kingdomearly
Middle Kingdom, the position of the scribe in society, the exploration of the Tale of the
Eloquent Peasant and understanding Howard Carter through his art.
Other activities during the year included the continuation of Hieroglyph classes. A very
successful fund raising study day was held on 12th April for the South Asasif Project for
which the Society made a generous donation. This year it was also possible to make five
awards from the Donation Fund for work in the field. Details of the award are printed in the
Newsletter. Thanks must go to Anette Olivier for organising a most enjoyable Members'
Miscellany held on 12th July at the Novotel hotel in Reading and to those members who gave
Thanks must also be given to Beth Asbury for producing another excellent Newsletter, which
contained a number of interesting articles written by members. I am sure Beth would
welcome more contributions on any Egyptological topics.
Finally, I should mention that I am standing down from the Committee due to pressures not
least of work. I would like to express my appreciation to members of the Committee for all
the work they put in to ensure events ran smoothly. As I have said before, however much
work the Committee does, without you the members it would be for nothing. So may I th ank
you for your support throughout the year and may that support continue. Thank you.
Chairman's Outlook 2015-16 (John Billman)
Once again this year we can look forward to a full and varied lecture programme and the
society is planning an Amarna fund-raising study day with Barry Kemp in the summer. We
will be going forward into this season with a new Honorary Secretary supported by a strong
and established team. While much remains the same it is natural that as a society we are
constantly renewing. As we grow we face new challenges of success, ranging from how we
welcome and embrace new members to how to best manage the coffee queue!
The popularity of ancient Egypt remains enduring. Our own provision is of course
complemented by classes (online as well as local), television, museums, trips and much more.
As our miscellany once again illustrated our own members have a tremendous level of
expertise and enthusiasm in the subject, and I encourage everyone to consider how that can
be channelled within both our society and the broader community. We may be facing the
onset of cooler weather, but let's make the most of the study opportunities that the new