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The Origins of Egyptian Civilisation in Whangarei

The Origins of Egyptian Civilisation in Whangarei


The origins of Ancient Egypt will come to Whangarei next month.

Professor Simon Holdaway, a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Auckland, will speak on the people who inhabited Ancient Egypt before the Pharoahs at the Whangarei Central Library on 4 October.

The presentation, The Origins of Egyptian Civilisation, is part of the University’s Tai Tokerau Campus International Speaker Series.

The series started in April and has seen four speakers present on their areas of expertise so far.
Professor Holdaway will outline how, ten thousand years ago, the Sahara was green and people moved freely across what is now a hyper-arid desert. Five thousand years later, people were concentrated in the Nile Valley and the Sahara was dry.

“Peoples’ economy had changed from hunting and gathering to a reliance on domesticated sheep, goats, cattle, and domestic grain. They had begun to bury their dead in elaborate tombs,” Professor Holdaway says.

“What changed? What was the impact of climate change and consequent shifts in environment? How does the origin of Egyptian Civilisation relate to the beginnings of agriculture in the nearby Levant? Is this a case of cultural replacement from elsewhere or should the origins of Egyptian Civilisation be sought in northeast Africa?”

Based on the results of recent fieldwork in the Fayum region of Egypt, Professor Holdaway will outline new results that help to explain the significance of changes in environment and culture that led to the development of Egyptian Civilisation.
Professor Holdaway is head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Auckland. Archaeology was the University’s top ranked subject for the second year in a row in the QS World University Rankings by Subject earlier this year, up from 20th in 2016 to 16th in the world in 2017.

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He also leads a University of Auckland and Auckland Museum team excavating the remains of human settlement on Great Mercury Island, about 8km off the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. Thousands of worked stones, fish bones, and fire-cracked rocks are combining to build our understanding of human history on the island. The ten-year project is a collaboration between the University, Ngāti Hei, who hold mana whenua over the island, the Fay and Richwhite families, and the Auckland Museum.

Professor Holdaway is the author of eight books and over 100 journal articles and book chapters. His archaeological fieldwork projects have taken him to France, Australia, Egypt, and New Zealand. His most recent book, The Desert Fayum Reinvestigated: The Early to Mid-Holocene Landscape Archaeology of the Fayum North Shore, Egypt is published as Monumenta Archaeologica v. 39 by the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, UCLA.

More information is available here.

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