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Conference Report: The Third International Congress for Young Egyptologists 2009 'Commerce and Economy in Ancient Egypt'.

Marsia Bealby

University of Birmingham


The Third International Congress for Young Egyptologists was held in the beautiful city of Budapest, in the Eötvös Loránd University, on the 25th and 26th September, and at the Museum of Fine Arts on the 27th September 2009. The event was organised by András Hudecz (M.A.) and Máté Petrik (M.A.) of the Byblos Foundation in co-operation with the Museum of Fine Arts - Budapest and the Eötvös Loránd University. The academic and advisory committee of the congress consisted of Prof. Manfred Bietak, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Vienna and Director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo; Dr. Edward Bleiberg, Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum; Prof. Jac J. Janssen, Professor Emeritus at the University of Leiden; Prof. Ulrich Luft, Professor of Egyptology at the Eötvös Loránd University Budapest; Prof. László Török, Research Professor at the Archaeological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Dr. Ian Shaw, Senior Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Liverpool; and Dr. David Alan Warburton, Guest Professor at the Mediterranean and Orient Research Centre - Jean Pouilloux, University Lumière Lyon 2.[1]

This year's congress focused on 'Commerce and Economy in Ancient Egypt' and was attended by more than a hundred speakers, poster presenters, delegates and visitors, from over twenty-five countries around the globe. All thirty papers and five posters initiated a vigorous discussion on a range of issues, both inside and outside the lecture room.

Day One: Friday, 25 September 2009

After a warm welcome by Dr. Tamás Dezső (Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Eötvös Loránd University) and H.E. Ambassador Aly El-Hefny (Ambassador of Egypt in Hungary), we proceeded to the keynote speaker of the congress, Prof. Dr. Jac J. Janssen (Professor Emeritus at the University of Leiden), who discussed 'Earning a living at Deir el-Medina'. Later, Hanadah Tarawneh (Macquarie University) gave a paper on 'Gift exchange and tribute in the Amarna letters', shedding more light on the gift-exchange practice by comparing the actual Amarna texts to other sources. Next, Vessela Atanassova (University of Paris Sorbonne IV, New Bulgarian University) delivered a paper entitled 'The Economic Function of the Title jmy-r Hmw-nTr"Overseer of the God's Servants"?' linking the title jmy-r Hmw-nTr to a more economical rather than religious function. The following speaker, Andrea Zingarelli (University of La Plata), spoke about 'Trade and "money" in Ramesside Egypt: the use of general equivalents in economic transactions'.

After breaking for lunch, Dr. Ian Shaw (University of Liverpool) raised a number of interesting points on pottery typology in his paper: 'Economic symbols? Quadrilingual vessels as metaphors for the Egypto-Achaemenid encounter'. Furthermore, the joint research of Dr. Sara Caramello and Dr. Alessandro Cappellini (Egyptian Museum of Turin and University of Turin) focused on luxury goods and pointed at issues such as reciprocity and reputation in their paper: 'An economic perspective on Near Eastern inter-kingdom relationships during the Late Bronze Age'.

The day progressed with Elena Valtorta's (Basel University) paper on 'Commercial routes in Upper Egypt from Late Naqada II to the Protodynastic: Defining patterns of interaction', followed by Mariusz Jucha's (Jagiellonian University in Krakow) presentation on 'The early Egyptian Rulers in the Nile Delta - a view from the Necropolis at Tell el-Farkha, and Marcin Czarnowicz's (Jagiellonian University in Krakow) research on 'The intersection of the trading routes; commerce and economy of pre- and early Dynastic Tell el-Farkha'.

Day Two: Saturday, 26 September 2009

The second day of the congress opened with a session on 'Palatial and Temple Economy'. Anna Hodgkinson (University of Liverpool) enlightened the audience on 'Mass-production in New Kingdom Egypt - Capital cities of the New Kingdom and their major industries'. Next, Walter de Winter (Leiden University) expressed his opinion on 'The Egyptian temple economy in the Foreign Lands of Canaan and Nubia'. Moreover, Giulia Pagliari' s paper concentrated on 'Storage in the Ancient Egyptian Palaces' to differentiate the storage of luxury goods from that of the goods intended for re-distribution.

After the coffee break, Evgeniya Kokina (Lomonosov Moscow State University) presented 'Two Egyptian private-law documents of the Old Kingdom'. Additionally, Kata Endreffy (Eötvös Loránd University) spoke to the audience about 'Business with gods: The role of bargaining in demotic letters to gods and Graeco-Roman judicial prayers'. Also, Gabriella Dembitz (Eötvös Loránd University) exhibited 'The oracular inscription of the High Priest of Amun Menkheperre in the Khonsu Temple at Karnak', to illustrate how the analysis of this inscription can help researchers reconstruct the economic situation in Thebes during the years of this high priest.

The 'Nature of the Egyptian economy and its interpretation' was discussed in a very enthusiastic public debate, initiated by the presentations of the two keynote speakers of the day: Dr. Edward Bleiberg (Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum) and Dr. David A. Warburton (Guest Professor at the Mediterranean and Orient Research Centre - Jean Pouilloux, University Lumière Lyon 2).

In the afternoon session, Birgit Schiller (Humboldt University of Berlin) discussed 'Customs and duty in the New Kingdom', raising the question: did foreign ships have to pay duty for their cargo? Next, Abeer El-Shahawy (University Paul Valéry Montpellier III) delivered a paper on the 'Reflections on the trade scenes in the New Kingdom'. Filipa Nascimento's (New University of Lisbon) paper on 'Luxury Goods: imports and trade - Private Banquets' demonstrated the link between national trade and imports of luxury goods for social events. Last, the final speaker of the day, Péter Antalffy (Eötvös Loránd University) attempted to 'revise' the Egyptian-Nubian relations in his paper 'The Nubian tribute'.

Day Three: Sunday, 27 September 2009

The third day of the congress took place in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. The schedule started with a paper by Alessandra Siragusa (Ca' Foscari University of Venice), titled 'Maritime study on north- and south-bound trade: the Red Sea harbours'. Elsbeth van der Wilt (Oxford University) exhibited 'Lead weights and ingots from Heracleion-Thonis: an illustration of Egyptian trade relations with the Eastern Mediterranean'. Later, Maria Rosa Guasch (New University of Lisbon) exhibited her 'Research on Egyptian wine marketing'.

After the coffee break, Prof. Dr. Manfred Bietak (Professor of Egyptology at the University of Vienna and Director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo) presented the latest discoveries from the site of Tell el-Dab'a in a paper entitled 'The palace of Khyan', shedding new light on the palatial architecture of Avaris and discussing his future excavation plans. The following speaker, Máté Petrik (Museum of Fine Arts-Budapest) talked about 'The Asiatics at el-Lahun', comparing the written sources to the archaeological material in order to give the audience a more detailed picture about the Asiatic People in Egypt.

After lunch, Barbara Gilli (Ca' Foscari University of Venice) identified the gods who protected the traders and miners in the territories outside the Nile Valley, in her presentation 'Under the protection of the Gods: The divine role for the good outcome of trade and mining expeditions'. Next, Virpi Perunka (Helsinki University) presented unpublished ceramic data from archaeological sites in Egypt's marginal regions in her paper on 'Pottery as an indicator of economy in Egypt's marginal sites'. Johanna Sigl (Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich) emphasised the importance of 'Food and luxury Goods - animal bones as an indicator for trade connections at the example of the faunal material of Ancient Syene/Aswan, Egypt'.

In the final session of the congress, Marco Rolandi (University of Genoa) raised some remarks on 'The grain trade and the importance of Egypt for the economy of the Hellenistic-Roman World'. Dania Bordignon (University of Turin) discussed the 'Use and symbolism of stone statuary: stone painted to imitate another one'.

Apart from the papers, academic posters were also presented by Marsia Bealby ('Minoan frescoes at Avaris'), Jose Alba Gomez ('Olive tree cultivation and trade in Ancient Egypt'), Tim Karberg ('Stonemasons' marks from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt'), Diana Liesegang ('The international transfer of culture between Egypt and the Aegean World') and Anna Maria Ravagnan ('Ancient interactions between Egyptians and Numidian inhabitants').


The closing remarks of the congress were delivered by Prof. Dr. László Török (Research Professor at the Archaeological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences). Those of us who visited Budapest for ICYE 2009 enjoyed a few days of remarkable Hungarian hospitality. On the final evening of the colloquium, a reception was held in the Museum of Fine Arts, where the conference delegates tasted some of the most delicious local gastronomic specialities in a festive atmosphere. On the following day (Monday 28th September 2009), we had the chance to attend a guided tour of the Egyptian Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, given by Dr. Éva Liptay (chief curator of the Egyptian Collection). Last, the social event of the congress included a trip to beautiful Visegrád, where we visited the Citadel and the Royal Palace.

[1]I wish to thank the Byblos Foundation, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Eötvös Loránd University, together with the sponsors and the academic and advisory committee of the congress, for their generous hospitality and support. For the full list of sponsors please visit