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Overview

Ms Sonia Guerrini

Postgraduate Research Student


Affiliations
Affiliation
Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Archaeology

Biography

Academic and Professional Biography

In 2002 I completed my Bachelor Honour Degree in History at the University of Deusto (Spain) with the specialty of Ancient and Medieval History. My final dissertation was: ‘From mythology to political philosophy. China in the 6th century AD’. During my studies I discovered that what interested me most was the history of religions and the evolution of religious beliefs throughout prehistory, especially in Egypt and the Levant. And archaeology! Since my first year I began to attend archaeological excavations spending the whole summer digging around the Iberian Peninsula.

I then went on to complete my Master of Advanced Studies (a certificate we have in Spain. It is more than a master's but less than a PhD. It is focused on research and has a duration of at least two years) in Archaeology from the University of Granada (Distinction) where I wrote my thesis: Mycenaean Connections in the Mediterranean Sea During the Late Bronze Age.

After this I started working as a professional archaeologist. My excavations have taken me all over the Iberian Peninsula, with much of the work done in the Basque Country, Egypt (I took part in an archaeological dig at the Theban Necropolis in Luxor) and the UK, where I have worked in commercial archaeology for the last 6 years. The range of periods of the sites in which I have participated go from the Neolithic to Modern times. My specialty is burials, with hundreds of Roman, medieval Arab and Christian tombs, and from the Spanish Civil War. I have worked as a project officer, supervisor, field archaeologist and in the laboratory.

At the same time, I have given classes for courses at the University of Deusto on Daily Life in Ancient Egypt and Daily Life in Mayan culture. In 2019 I had the opportunity to collaborate in the Egyptian Circulating Artefacts Project at the British Museum,

In April 2022 I started my PhD at the Department of Archaeology at Durham University. My research interests lie in Ancient Egyptian and Levant goddesses, mythology and religion, gender archaeology, archaeology of religion, the relationship between religious and social changes and education and public outreach.

Alongside my PhD studies, I work as a Durham Castle tour guide and other jobs related to my college. I am also one of the Level 1 Postgraduate Representatives for the Archaeology Department, serving on the Castle MCR Executive and different Committees, Editor of GRAD newsletter and Student Ambassador.

 

Research Topic

My research aims to investigate the impact of changes in the conceptualization of the goddesses in Egypt and Canaan during the Late Bronze Age due to interconnections between the two regions. A diachronic analysis of textual and material culture sources, acting as one of the strongest mechanisms for comparing these interactions, will allow an investigation into changes in the role of the goddesses and their cults, and the reasons why they remained, disappeared, or were transformed. This analysis will provide a greater understanding of each area’s interaction with female power, and how the socio-political and economic changes affected their religious beliefs.

The Late Bronze Age, ca 1550-1200 BCE, is recognised as an ‘International Age’ of unprecedented contact and interchange with crucial historical and political events in Egypt and the Near East. From the beginning of the New Kingdom Egypt established an Egyptian hegemony over the Canaanite regions that lasted until the end of the LBA. These events provoked well studied socio-political and economic changes (Grabbe2016). In comparison, little is known about the reciprocal impacts on the concepts of divine females and goddess cults of both areas under these interactions.

In order to identify and analyse the dynamics of these changes research will focus on the following goddesses: Hathor, Mut, Neith, Nut, Anat, Asherah and Astarte. They were at the forefront of religious practice in the Bronze Age, evolving during the LBA. Analysis of the goddesses’ representations in texts and physical form will establish which of them maintained their status, gained predominance, lost it, changed or disappeared. Efforts to reconstruct the Egyptian and Canaanite religions heavily rely on textual sources, disregarding the material evidence (Hillers 1985). The novelty of this project is its inclusion of material evidence too, investigating both. Observing the change in the pattern of production of terracotta, metal sheet and solid cast figurines in Canaan, for example, where there was a roughly equal worship of female and male deities in the Middle Bronze, reveals a shift to a greater preponderance of the cult of male divinities and a diminution of female divinities through the LBA (Susnow 2022). In Egypt, however, these same Canaanite goddesses, were assimilated into the Egyptian religious system (Cornelius 2008) and even provoked a rewriting of Egyptian myths.

This project will help advance the overall understanding of the changes of the social and religious dynamics of the region. The work has the potential to highlight shifts in gender during this time of drastic social change, that was precursor to and perhaps basis for later religious developments, that still have a resonance today.

 

Talks and Teaching

  • January 2023, Lecturer of ‘The 200 Year Anniversary of the Deciphering of Hieroglyphs’, University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain)
  • August 2022, Lecturer of ‘100 years from the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun’, Sutton Trust Summer School. Archaeology Department, Durham University 
  • June 2022, Lecturer of ‘100 years from the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun’ University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain)
  • October 2021, Lecturer of ‘Digging in Egypt and in the world.’ Gran Canarias High chool, Spain.
  • March 2020, publication of the article ‘Hathor in the Beaney’, Newsletter Magazine Friends of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, 111 Spring 2020
  • June 2019. Researcher in the Egyptian Circulating Artefacts Volunteering Project at the British Museum.
  • March 2016: Lecturer of ‘Ancient Egypt’. Ampuero Primary School, Cantabria Spain.
  • February 2016. Lecturer of 4 lectures: ‘Daily Life in Ancient Egypt’, Egyptology Week, organised by the Department of Culture, City Hall of Llodio, Spain
  • January- May 2011, Professor of the course: ‘Daily life in Mayan Culture’, Institute of Leisure Studies of the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.
  • January- May 2010, Professor of the course: ‘Daily life in Ancient Egypt’, Institute of Leisure Studies of the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.