Sunday, August 13, 2006

Egytpology pioneer Maggie Benson in her own words

The Archaeology magazine website has been updated again, with a super article about Maggie Benson - anyone intersted in the background to the field of Egyptology should read this, and enjoy:
"The Temple of Mut is the earthly home of Mut, the powerful mother goddess and defender of Egypt, and a testament to the might of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who built the temple to associate herself with the revered goddess and emphasize both her own position of power and her femininity. Thus, it seems fitting that another pioneering female, Margaret Benson, conducted the first large-scale excavations of the Temple of Mut. As the first woman to lead an excavation in Egypt, Benson worked for three seasons at Mut between 1895 and 1897, unearthing valuable evidence of the temple's history and Hatshepsut's influence there. The letters she wrote to friends and family from Egypt, compiled by her brother Arthur into Life and Letters of Maggie Benson (1917), and the book she co-authored on the excavation, The Temple of Mut at Asher (1899), provide a glimpse into the mind of this extraordinary woman. They reveal Benson's devotion to the project and to the temple, her interest in Egyptology, and her keen intellect and wit."
The article goes on to provide biographical details about Benson, with extracts from her book talking about her work at the Temple of Mut:
"Our first intention was not ambitious. We were desirous of clearing a picturesque site. We were frankly warned that we should make no discoveries; indeed if any had been anticipated it was unlikely that the clearance would have been entrusted to inexperienced direction."

The author of the article is Sarah Pickman, an intern at ARCHAEOLOGY, and an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago, pursuing a major in anthropology and a minor in art history.

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