AMME Seminar 14.12.23: ‘Communities of the Past and Present’

We are pleased to announce that fourth and final Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar of the fall semester will be organised as a hybrid event on Thursday 14 December (16:15-18:00 EET/Helsinki time).

** updated program**

The session will consist of three papers – by Joanna Töyräänvuori, Lena Tambs, and Päivi Miettunen – followed by a shared question round and discussion on the seminar specific theme of ‘communities in the past and present’. The topics of the talks are:

‘Military Garrisons as Sites of International Trade in Achaemenid Egypt (Dr. Joanna Töyräänvuori)

The time of the so-called First Egyptian Satrapy was one of the most international times in ancient Egypt. The Persian Achamenid Empire had conquered Egypt in 525 BCE leading to 'cosmopolitanization' of Egypt as it was made into an imperial satrapy. The era of Persian domination did not lead to contacts merely between the Egyptians and the Persians but also with various other peoples of the ancient Near East as mercenaries from the Aegean, Anatolia, and the Levant flooded into Egypt along with refugees from the Greco-Persian wars especially from the area of ancient Phoenicia. The ethnic and cultural make-up of the newly founded military garrisons in Egypt reflected the international composition of the Achaemenid army. These military garrisons, which were located especially on the outer borders of the empire, did not house only military personnel and their families but often formed symbiotic relationships with the local villages and communities in their vicinity. This paper examines the military garrisons of Achaemenid Egypt as sites of international trade where e.g., migrant women with Levantine ancestry could amass considerable fortunes through their interaction with the local populations and the newcomers from various parts of the empire.

‘Foreign Elements of the Ptolemaic Town and Military Camp of Pathyris in Upper Egypt (Dr. Lena Tambs)

Following the end of the Great Revolt of 205-186 BCE, the Ptolemies strengthened and established new military camps and garrisons in various places in the Thebaid. One of the towns that received such a camp was Pathyris (Gebelein), positioned on the west bank of the Nile some 28 km south of Thebes. Despite noticeable Greek influences in the century that followed, detailed studies of written and archaeological evidence from the site suggest that such foreign elements seldom had deep roots in the community. Even after a military subdivision of the larger garrison of nearby Krokodilopolis was established in Pathyris, the community formed by the inhabitants received few new and non-local members, and for most people life continued more or less as before. In this talk, I outline and reflect on the implications of selected practices and observations, as viewed from a relational and network-oriented perspective.

By the People, for the People? Negotiating Community Archaeology in Northern Jordan’ (Dr. Päivi Miettunen)

The focus of archaeologists and archaeological research projects is naturally on ancient communities and the material environment that they have produced. However, contemporary communities living on or near the site, as well as various other non-academic stakeholders, have always been part of archaeological projects. During the last two decades, especially in connection with decolonisation of the field, public archaeology in its various forms and names has been increasingly discussed among the scholars. Planning an archaeological field project that incorporates plans for community interaction has become standard.

Considering the limitations of time and funding in academic projects, do the archaeologists have expertise, means, or resources to address the goals, needs and expectations that local communities have for archaeology and archaeological sites? In this talk, I will discuss the experiences from ANEE’s Team 3 archaeological project in Northern Jordan. Here, the ongoing community project includes talks, visits and a book for children, but the area of study touches several villages, each with their own community structures and histories, creating a challenging environment.

CANCELLED:Social Life in el-Lahun – Sociolinguistics in Identifying Patronage Structures in Late Middle Kingdom Egypt (MA Kaisa Autere)

The Lahun papyri collection (1850−1750 BC) from a state-founded and -organised settlement and temple site is the largest corpus of textual sources from late Middle Kingdom Egypt. Especially the closed contextual setting of the material (i.e. the papyri being obtained from a single site with limited chronological distribution in the dates of the texts) is so far unique for Middle Kingdom Egypt and makes the collection a perfect material for the studies of community life. This paper offers a new interpretation for some of the letters of the Lahun papyri and suggests that they are, in fact, written by a client to his patron. The study shows how the new sociolinguistically oriented methodology for studying these texts gives valuable insights for discussion on the significance of patronage in Lahun and on the complexity of dependence structures in a late Middle Kingdom household.

All are most welcome, so please share and join us in person or online!

Time: Thursday 14 December at 16:15-18:00 EET (UTC+2h).

Live venue: Language centre, room 105 / Kielikeskus, sh. 105 (Fabianinkatu 26, 1st floor).

Virtual venue: Zoom (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118 /

For a recap of the fall semester, see the AMME fall program and session summaries posted on the ANEE news blog!