Posted on 27 June 2012
Part of the York Festival of Ideas, the Egyptian day on Friday, 29 June, includes two major public lectures at the University's superb Ron Cooke Hub and an Egyptian-themed workshop for students from York's Fulford School.
In an event open to all, the scientists behind Channel 4's award-winning documentary Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret, Dr Stephen Buckley and Dr Joann Fletcher, will be on hand at a 'Meet the Scientists' event at 7.30pm to explain more about their work and answer questions.
The scientists from the University of York's Department of Archaeology spent nearly two decades uncovering the secrets of the mummification process used during the 18th dynasty 'Golden Age' of ancient Egypt. InMummifying Alan they replicated this process on the body of taxi-driver Alan Billis, who volunteered after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
In a separate public event at 6.15pm, Andrew Robinson, author and former literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement, discusses his new book, Cracking the Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion – the first biography in English of the decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Champollion is widely considered to be the founder of Egyptology, researching the Egyptian language and script in order to understand the civilization as a whole. Robinson’s book is an account of the rivalry between two scholars, Champollion and Dr Thomas Young, who were total opposites – intellectually, politically and emotionally – and tells the story of the race to unlock the secrets of a great but neglected civilization.
Earlier in the day, 60 Year 7 and 8 pupils from Fulford School will be doing their own research into ancient and modern Egypt, taking part in workshops organised by University of York student volunteers.
The Fulford School pupils have been challenged to design a holiday brochure for ancient Egypt and entries will be judged on Friday. In addition, the pupils will look at hieroglyphics and signs – including a code breaking activity with a hieroglyphic sign chart; myths and culture of the after-life; and knowledge of the anatomy through the eyes of Egyptians.
The nine University student volunteers leading the workshops are taking part in the Summer Term Challenge 2012 programme, which involves over 160 students from the Departments of English and Related Literature and Education. Run in partnership with the University's Careers Service, the programme provides small teams of University students with challenges, such as collecting oral accounts for the York 800 celebrations, organising a Storytelling Festival and running events for the York Festival of Ideas.
As well as demonstrating their commitment to the local community, the student volunteers are gaining valuable work experience to enhance their future career prospects.
Amy Jepson, a 20-year-old University of York student studying English Literature, said: "We have all found this project interesting and challenging. The Fulford pupils were really enthusiastic and working with them has allowed us to develop our skills in teaching. The York Festival of Ideas has given us a valuable opportunity to engage with the public."
Nick Bradley, from Fulford School, added: "Our students have really thrived during this project; in small groups, the students have worked extremely hard on an ancient travel brochure before getting the opportunity to experience the York Festival of Ideas on the University campus."
Admission to both public lectures at the Ron Cooke Hub on Friday, 29 June is by free ticket only, available from yorkfestivalofideas.com/tickets/.