Des sables de Bahariya aux ors de la cour de Thèbes : un parcours d’égyptologie interdisciplinaire
Par Frédéric Colin, USIAS, Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, UMR 7044 Archimède
Abstract: With an introduction by David Le Breton, USIAS Chair of Anthropology of Contemporary Worlds.
An Egyptologist is traditionally thought of as a specialist in the ancient history of a chrono-cultural area defined by linguistic and cultural criteria: the Nile Valley and the bordering regions that were home to populations whose writing and language were documented for over 3,000 years, from the third millennium BC to the first millennium AD.
In theory, Egyptology is a synthetic discipline, involving archaeology (studying objects and structures discovered on excavation sites), philology (editing ancient texts), history (combining archaeological and textual sources to answer historical questions) and other fields from social sciences and humanities that can shed light on the dynamics of societies. In reality, researchers and institutions tend to specialise in one of these sub-fields. From an epistemological point of view, this specialisation is a spontaneous phenomenon that may be required to advance increasingly sophisticated knowledge. However, it also generates reassuring internal and external disciplinary boundaries, which owe more to contingent traditions of teaching than to the objective needs of advancing knowledge.
The lecture will include several examples to illustrate the value of scientific wandering that often overpasses artificial borders, provided that one dares to take a temporarily naive look at a well-known problem, which can generate unexpected creativity.
It will also emphasize the usefulness of developing first-hand experimental techniques and skills to which we do not always pay the greatest attention in the humanities because of an affinity for theory and idea-driven knowledge. From this perspective, testing and improving archaeological applications of digital photogrammetry in the Egyptian collection of the University of Strasbourg and on the excavation site of the Assasif proved fundamental to be able to capitalise on an important chance discovery in 2018, 2019 and 2021. The photogrammetric method that was systematically used to document the excavation, both for the stratigraphy and for the objects, provided valid support for the contextual interpretation of the finding. Without this flexible, accurate and rapid tool, the highly unstructured context from which the five 3,500-year-old coffins came would have made real-time data recording and post-excavation interpretation extremely difficult. This method has also allowed the rigorous recording of a “crime scene” that attests to acts of vandalism against funerary monuments in Pharaonic antiquity, of which modern and recent examples in the context of the antiquities market are much better known.
Cite this paper as: Frédéric Colin, « Des sables de Bahariya aux ors de la cour de Thèbes : un parcours d’égyptologie interdisciplinaire », Leçon inaugurale de la Chaire Marc Bloch de l’USIAS, 1er juin 2023, https://clae.hypotheses.org/3989, consulté le XX/XX/XXXX.