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Overview

Miss Esmeralda Lundius

BA (Hons), MSc


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Member of the Department of Archaeology  

Biography

I completed a BA (Hons) in Archaeology at Durham University in 2013 and an MSc in Forensic Archaeological Science at UCL in 2015. My undergraduate thesis is entitled “Swallowing the Sacred: The use of liquids and vital forces in Ancient Egyptian Religion” and concerned the use and ritual significance of offering tables, cippi, ritual receptacles, amulets and their links to certain written spells and sacred texts, which is the starting point for my PhD research. After graduating from Durham University, I studied Forensic Archaeological Science at UCL to gain practical experience and learn the techniques needed to analyse human remains and apply such an experience to Egyptian funerary archaeology. My thesis in forensic archaeology is entitled “The Live Burial: Multidisciplinary approaches for the identification and investigations of live burials” and was completed in 2015.

Investigations of human remains and efforts to relate them to a specific historical socio-cultural context have also been at the centre of my work at excavations at an early Roman and Etruscan site in the centre of Rome, where I first was engaged as an archaeologist (2012-2013) and then, between 2014 and 2015, as the official anthropologist/forensic archaeologist on site. Due to the support of the officials and organisations involved in the Sant’Omobono Project, I was not only able to expand my knowledge of archaeological methodology, but was also provided with the responsibility of conducting an archaeological investigation and experience the benefits of a multidisciplinary collaboration. I have also worked as an archaeologist in the summer of 2012 at the Ancient Egyptian capital of Sais in the Egyptian Delta, run by Dr. Penelope Wilson and managed by the Egypt Exploration Society and Durham University in collaboration with the Ministry of State for Antiquities. During the 2017/2018 Seasons at Sais I had the opportunity of being involved in the project as an Archaeological Illustrator, drawing and documenting numerous small finds as well as pottery.

As part of an exchange program funded by the DAAD (2018-2019) I was enrolled as a PhD Exchange Student at the Ägyptologisches Seminar, Altertumswissenschaften Institute at Freie Universität, Germany under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Jochem Kahl. Here I had the opportunity of being part of The Asyut Project as a researcher engaged in the investigation, documentation, and interpretation of the numerous offering tables pertaining to the ancient necropolis on the Gebel.

Education

October 2016 – present
PhD Program at the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, UK.
Research: “MATERIA MAGICA AEGYPTIAE: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice” Supervisors: Dr. Penelope Wilson and Dr. Pam Graves

October 2018 – September 2019 
PhD Exchange Student at the Ägyptologisches Seminar, Altertumswissenschaften Institute at Freie Universität, Germany. Research: “MATERIA MAGICA AEGYPTIAE: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice” Supervisor: Dr. Jochem Kahl

April - September 2018
Erasmus + Exchange Semester at the Fachbereich Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften at Freie Universität, Germany.

February – July 2016
Visiting Scholar Program at the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, UK.
Research: “MATERIA MAGICA AEGYPTIAE: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice” Supervisor: Dr. Penelope Wilson

October 2013 – November 2015
MSc Forensic Archaeological Science, Institute of Archaeology, UCL (University College London), UK.
Master Dissertation Thesis: “Buried Alive: Multidisciplinary approaches for the identification and investigation of live burials” Awarded Msc (Class II Division 1 – 69 points)

October 2010 – June2013
BA Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.
Undergraduate Dissertation Thesis: “Swallowing the Sacred: The use of liquids and vital forces in Ancient Egyptian Religion” Awarded BA Hons (Class I)

Work Experience

The Asyut Project, Asyut, Egypt – 08 - 09.2018
Employed as a Researcher for the investigation, documentation and interpretation of the numerous offering tables pertaining to the ancient necropolis on the Gebel. The site is managed by the Department of Egyptology (History and Cultural Studies) at the Freie University Berlin, the Department of Egyptology (History and Cultural Studies) at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Department of Egyptology at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Sohag, Egypt, and the Egyptian Antiquities Service (SCA) Employer: Dr. Jochem Kahl, Freie Universitat.

Teaching Assistant at the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK – 10.2017 – 06.2018
Employed as a Teaching Assistant and Demonstrator for Undergraduate Courses at the Department of Archaeology. I was a tutor and instructor for the following four modules: Archaeology Practicals (Ceramics), Applied Archaeological Methods, Cities in Antiquities, and Ancient Civilisations of the East. Employer: Department of Archaeology, Durham University.

Sais (Sa el Hagar) Excavations, Egypt – 09.2017, 09.2018
Employed as an Archaeological Illustrator and therefore documented and illustrated small finds from several seasons as well as different types of assembled pottery. The site was managed by the Egypt Exploration Society and Durham University in collaboration with the Ministry of State for Antiquities. Employer: Dr. Penelope Wilson, Durham University.

S. Omobono Excavations, Italy ~ 18.06–06.07.2012, 01.07–19.07.2013, 11.06–11.07.2014, 05.05-10.07.2015
I participated in the excavations carried out at S. Omobono, an early Roman and Etruscan site in the center of Rome, Italy. In2012 and 2013 I worked as an archaeologist on site and in 2014 and 2015 I was the official anthropologist/forensic archaeologist responsible for the excavation, cataloging, analysis and conservation of human bone. The site was managed by the University of Calabria, the University of Michigan (USA) and La Sopraindendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale. My contact with the University of Calabria was graciously supported by the Swedish Institute of Rome. Employer: Paolo Brocato, University of Calabria, Nicola Terrenato, University of Michigan.

Sais (Sa el Hagar) Excavations, Egypt ~ 28.08.2012 – 12.09.2012
I participated in archaeological excavations at Sais in Sa el Hagar at the heart of the Egyptian Delta. The site was managed by the Egypt Exploration Society and Durham University in collaboration with the Ministry of State for Antiquities. Employer: Dr. Penelope Wilson, Durham University.

Binchester Excavations, UK ~ 06. 2011
I participated in archaeological excavations at Binchester, a Roman fort near Durham. This was managed by Durham University, in collaboration with the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland. Employer: Dr. David Petts, Durham University.

Research Topic

Materia Magica Aegyptiae: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice 

Abstract

My PhD project entitled “Materia Magica Aegyptiae: The Relationship Between the Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice” mostly concerns the use and function of offering tables. The study aims at demonstrating how these objects change over time, while preserving their main function as means to ‘materialise’ the immaterial by fomenting a relation with a spiritual dimension via funerary rituals involving the use of liquids. Offering tables may reflect architectural and topographic features in their design, revealing essential information regarding their ritual use and context. Several such plates do in miniature display entire canal systems thus indicating the life-giving forces that such structures transmitted to fields and pools from the inundating Nile water. However, offering tables from specific temporal and regional contexts may also represent tomb courtyards and facades rather than replicas of ancient Egyptian households. Offering tables may therefore be ritual landscapes themselves, used as ritual theatres for activating the ka.

My research is strictly multidisciplinary, presenting an in-depth analysis of the artefacts from various collections, placing them into their temporal context as well as their physical relationship to the mortuary landscape. Concepts of ritual landscape linked to theological thought as well as archaeological methodology will be used to try and identify the significance of this materia magica in ancient Egyptian magical practice.

Grants and Awards

2020

DAAD Grant for Alumni Events, The German Academic Exchange Service, Bonn, Germany.

2019

Grant from Helge Ax:son Stiftelse (Ax:son Foundation), Stockholm, Sweden.

2018

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK.

DAAD One-Year Research Grant (10 months exchange),

The German Academic Exchange Service, Bonn, Germany.

Grant from Helge Ax:son Stiftelse (Ax:son Foundation), Stockholm, Sweden.

Erasmus + Grant (6 months exchange), European Commission.

Norman Richardson Postgraduate Research Fund, Ustinov College, Durham University, UK.

Centenary Award, Egypt Exploration Society, London, UK.

2017

Birley Bursary Travel Award, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, Durham, UK.

2016

H.R. Haycock Studentship in Archaeology of Egypt and the Ancient Near East, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, Durham, UK.

Travel Grant from Helge Ax:son Stiftelse (Ax:son Foundation), Stockholm, Sweden.

Birley Bursary Travel Award, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, Durham, UK.

2013

Departmental Prize "Best Dissertation in Near Eastern Archaeology" Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.

Seminars, Conference Presentations and Public Lectures

Workshop Organiser:

2020

"The Archaeology of Ritual Workshop: Rethinking ritual practices in sanctuaries and necropoleis of the ancient Mediterranean world". 7th-8th February 2020, Humboldt Universität, Berlin, Germany.

Presentations:

2020

The Offering Table as a Ritual Utensil: an attempt at reconstructing ancient Egyptian funerary ritual and magical practice. The 5th British Egyptology Conference (BEC5), Durham University 1st September-16th October 2020. Hosted by the EES via Zoom.

The Offering Table as a Ritual Utensil: an attempt at reconstructing ancient Egyptian funerary ritual and magical practice. The Archaeology of Ritual Workshop 7th- 8th February, Humboldt Universität, Germany. February 2020. Berlin, Germany.

2019

The Siutian Offering Tables: Reconstructing funerary ritual in the ancient necropolis at Asyut. Terra Incognita: Archaeological Fieldwork in Asyut and Middle Egypt Conference, Topoi-Haus Dahlem at Freie Universität. June 2019. Berlin, Germany.

The Offering Table: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. The 4th Annual Meeting of the Necropolis Research Network, Topoi-Haus Dahlem at Freie Universität. February 2019. Berlin, Germany.

2017

Offering Tables: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. Paper presented at the Annual Birmingham Egyptology Symposium, Birmingham University. February 2017. Birmingham, UK.

Lectures:

2018

Interactive Session with Replica Offering Tables. Workshop organized by the North Eastern Ancient Egypt Society, Oriental Museum, Durham University. November 2018. Durham, UK.

Ancient Egyptian Offering Tables as Ritual Landscapes. Masters and PhD Annual Colloquium at the Egyptology Seminar, Freie Universität. June 2018. Berlin, Germany.

2017

Ancient Egyptian Offering Tables as Ritual Landscapes. Sudan and Egypt Study Group (SESG), Department of Archaeology, Durham University. December 2017. Durham, UK.

Offering Tables: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. "Introduction to Ancient Egypt" Lecture Series offered by the North Eastern Ancient Egypt Society (NEAES) and EXPLORE, Commercial Union House. November 2017. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posters:

2018

Offering Tables as Ritual Landscapes: The Relationship Between Material and Immaterial in Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. The 4th British Egyptology Conference (BEC4), University of Manchester 7th-9th September 2018. Manchester, UK.

Research interests

  • Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice
  • Religion in Ancient Egypt
  • Material Culture
  • Material Analysis
  • Funerary Landscape
  • Funerary Ritual
  • Funerary Archaeology
  • Archaeology of Ritual
  • Ritual Anthropology
  • Paleopathology

Publications

Journal Article

  • Lundius, E. (2020). Offering Tables as Ritual Landscapes: An anthropological perspective of ancient Egyptian materia magicae. Distant Worlds Journal (4): 78-106.