2012 Site Diary

March 31 2012: Marine Yoyotte

This is today my turn to write the diary. As I am the French team member, I hope you will excuse me for any fault!

I first would like to say how happy I am to be back in the team after missing the last two seasons. I just defended my Ph-D last February at La Sorbonne University in Paris and am working on the site of Gurob since my master, so I have the unique opportunity to work both on textual and archaeological evidences.

The subject of my Ph-D is “The royal ‘harem’ in Ancient Egypt. Philological, archaeological and prosopographical study” and covers the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period. So, basically the summary of my work is as following :

The word "harem" invariably refers to an orientalist fantasy built around the Turkish harem. The "harem" in Ancient Egypt was then due for a redefinition based on the known attestations dating from the Old Kingdom to the Late Period. The two expressions used to designate it, ‘jpt nsw’ and ‘pr xnty’, allow to evoke at the same time the community of women and children who live there, the building that houses them, as well as the institution as a whole, which is a royal privilege. Originally, the "harem" constitutes private quarters in the king’s palace; then during the New Kingdom, it can characterize "harems" separated from the pharaoh’s residence but still integrated into the palace complex, along with the creation of "harems" outside the palace complex. The "harem" then experienced a considerable growth both in terms of institution as well as of architecture, probably due in part to the setting up of diplomatic marriages with daughters of foreign rulers. It is under the reign of Thutmose III that was built the "harem" of Mi-wer, located at the southern entrance of the Fayum depression. The fact that it includes the only remains of such an architectural structure as well as a written documentation therefore deserved a specific attention. We also examined the inhabitants of the "harem" and the employees who were in charge of its administration. These people are the subject of an exhaustive prosopographical study conducted to determine how this administrative unit was organized but also to understand the microsociety that was such an institution.

As you can imagine, Gurob is one of my central subject of discussion in the thesis and I really feel lucky to be working here since 2006. I am also really glad that the team is getting bigger and that we can work with people form Copenhagen. Tomorrow, I will begin to work with Rachael on a new square in the south palace area and really can’t wait to work on it, as I am sure it will bring some new informations about the structure of the building and its use. And as we will be in the palace area, who knows, we might be able to find a new head of Queen Tiy !