Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

 

Miss Tessa Baber 


  • Overview
Tessa Baber picture
Position:PhD Archaeology

Academic History


BA Archaeology (2:1)
Obtained June 2010

BA Thesis:  How Far are Changes in Funerary Texts in the New Kingdom Royal Tombs Reflected in the Private Tombs of the Same Period?

MA Archaeology (Distinction)
Obtained September 2011

MA Thesis:  The Mummy Pits of Ancient Egypt: The Long Kept Secret of Early Travellers

PhD at Cardiff University since 2012 (AHRC funded)

PhD Research

Working title: The Mummy Pits of Ancient Egypt: an Investigation into a Lost Burial Form

My PhD research which builds upon a pilot study undertaken during my MA, is an investigation into the ‘mummy pits’ of ancient Egypt. These ‘pits’ contain mass burials of mummies and are frequently recorded by early travellers to Egypt in accounts dating from the 12th – 19th centuries A.D. It is within these accounts that the mummy pits are preserved as they now appear to have been lost to us. My research involves forensically examining these accounts in order to extract archaeological information which can be used to reconstruct this unusual burial form.

My research aims to:
1. reveal the form and content of the mummy pits
2. date the mummy pits and determine where they could once be found in Egypt
3. investigate what may have happened to the pits, with the possibility that their contents were used to manufacture ‘mummy products’ such as fertiliser and paper
4. to link information gathered by modern archaeological investigation with that provided by early travellers in order to reconstruct the mummy pits as a burial rite

The ultimate aim is to add to current understanding of the burial practice of ancient Egypt’s lower classes, as the mummy pits appear to represent communal burials of these individuals.

Start date: January 2012
First Supervisor: Dr Paul Nicholson
Second Supervisor: Dr Peter Guest

Papers Presented

‘The Mysterious Sun Kings of Ancient Egypt: The Heretic Pharaohs of the Amarna Period’
11th November 2013
Organisation: Celtic Learners Network
Location: St David’s Hall (Cardiff)

‘Ancient Monuments of the World in the Medieval Period’
25th July 2013
Organisation: Celtic Learners Network
Location: Caerphilly Castle

‘Where have all the Mummies Gone? The Disappearing Mummy Pits’
18th May 2013
Organisation: Egyptian Society Taunton

‘Mummy Pits: The Burial of the Poor in Ancient Egypt’
2nd May 2013
Location: Cardiff University
(Undergraduate Archaeology Lecture for module: HS2375 Egyptian Funerary Archaeology)

‘The Egypt Obsession’
13th April 2013
Organisation: Celtic Learners Network
Location: Caerwent Barn Education Centre

‘Mummymania: Exploitation of Egypt's Mummies through the Centuries’
22nd September 2012
Organisation: Celtic Learners Network
Location: St David’s Hall, Cardiff

‘The Mummy Pits of Ancient Egypt: Revealed by Early Travellers’
18th February 2012
Organisation: Andante Travels
Location: Cardiff University
(Study day for Andante Travels)

‘Travellers and Mummy Pits’
15th July 2011
Organisation: Association for the Study of Travellers to Egypt and the Near East (ASTENE)
Location: Oxford University
(Ninth Biennial ASTENE Conference)

Bursaries and Funds Awarded

Bursary Awarded by ASTENE (15th – 18th July 2011)
Bursary to attend ASTENE’s 9th biennial conference at St Anne’s College, Oxford University
Role in Conference: Chair of Chairs
Paper presented: 15th July 2011

Sir Cyril Fox Fund (awarded July 2011)
Awarded for travel expenses to ASTENE’s biennial conference at St Anne’s College, Oxford University

Sir Cyril Fox Fund (awarded July 2013)
Awarded for travel expenses to ASTENE’s biennial conference at Birmingham University

Teaching Experieince

Postgraduate Practical Demonstrator:
HS2340 Archaeological Illustration

Postgraduate Seminar Tutor:
HS2120 Ancient Egypt
HS2117 Great Discoveries in Archaeology
HS2362 Roman Britain
HS4308 Death and Burial in the Roman World

Postgraduate Lecturer:
HS2375 Egyptian Funerary Archaeology

Adult Education 

Celtic Learners Network (In partnership with Cadw and the National Museum Cardiff)
I am currently an adult education tutor for the Celtic Learners network where I design and deliver lectures and workshops which centre around my current research interests. Website: http://www.celticlearnersnetwork.org.uk/tutors.htm

Archaeological Illustration

Current work:
Producing archaeological illustrations for Prof. Paul Nicholson of artefacts from the dog catacomb project at Saqqara, Egypt (2012)

(To be published at the end of 2015)


Past work:

Artefacts from Kom Helul, Memphis (Egypt) (March-June 2012)
Produced set of archaeological illustrations for Prof. Paul Nicholson of artefacts from his project at Kom Helul, Memphis (Egypt)

Published:
Nicholson. P. T. (2013). Working in Memphis: The production of faience at Roman Period Kom Helul. London: EES. Excavation Memoir 105.

Artefacts from The Petrie Museum, UCL (London) (5th November 2012)

Produced archaeological illustrations of artefacts (faience moulds) for Prof. Paul Nicholson (part of the Petrie Museum collection)
Published: Nicholson. P. T. (2013). Working in Memphis: The production of faience at Roman Period Kom Helul. London: EES. Excavation Memoir 105.

Artefacts from Amarna (Egypt)

Produced archaeological illustrations of faience tiles from Amarna for a paper published by Prof. Paul Nicholson
Published: Nicholson, P. T., Parkes, P. J. and Jackson, C. (2013). A tale of two tiles: Preliminary investigation of two faience 'bricks'. In: Oppenheim, A. and Goelet, O. eds. The Art and Culture of Ancient Egypt: Studies in Honor of Dorothea Arnold. Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar, Vol. 19. New York, NY:  Egyptological Seminar of New York.


On-site Illustrator:

Dog Catacombs, Saqqara (Egypt)
(Season of 2012)
Archaeological Illustrator for Prof. Paul Nicholson’s project undertaken in the Dog Catacombs of Saqqara (Egypt)
(Illustrations to be published at the end of 2015)

Museum Experience

The British Museum: Department of Ancient Egypt and the Sudan

Internship
(June – December 2014)
Project: Wadi Sarga
Project Directors: Elisabeth O’Connell, Amandine Merat

Role in Project:

This project involved the researching and digital publication of material relating to the Wadi Sarga excavations conducted by Reginald Campbell-Thompson in 1914. Due to the outbreak of the First World War, this material was never published and so the aim was to scan and assemble all excavation notebooks and other archival material relating to the site with a view to publish this on the museum’s website. This project was part of an overall research project into the Wadi Sarga collections at the museum which aims to see Thompson’s work finally published following the hundred year anniversary of his work at the site.

References:
E. R. O’Connell, 'R. Campbell Thompson’s 1913/14 excavation of Wadi Sarga and other sites,' British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 21 (2014): 121–92.


National Museum Wales: The Clore Discovery Centre

Archaeological Facilitator

Role: I am currently an archaeological facilitator for the museum’s interpretation gallery where I interact with members of the public, encouraging them to explore the museum’s handling collection. I also participate in and direct school and family workshops in the gallery, as well as being involved in designing and developing educational material for visitors. I also assist with the collections management of specimens on display and I am also currently assisting in redeveloping the archaeology handling material within the gallery.

Department of Archaeology & Numismatics: Portable Antiquities Scheme

Assistant for Mark Lodwick (Finds Co-ordinator for Wales)
(December 2011 – December 2013)

Role: Analysed and recorded artefacts on loan to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, preparing of object reports ready for uploading onto the Portable Antiquities database.

Curatorial Training

Cowbridge Collection: Artefact Analysis & Categorisation (July 2011)

Project Directors: Elizabeth Walker (Collections Manager), Evan Chapman (Curatorial Officer) & Sian Madgwick-Iles (Curatorial Assistant)
Role: Analysed and catalogued artefacts in the Museum’s Cowbridge collection as part of a project working with Cardiff University undergraduate students and other museum volunteers.

Data Input Assistant for Evan Chapman (Curatorial Officer) (January – December 2012)

Data Input Assistant for the data gathered during the Cowbridge Collection Project of July 2011. This primarily involved updating the Museum’s database (MicroMusée), with additional research of individual artefacts and archive reports whilst updating the system.

Oesteoarchaeological Assistant for Jody Deacon (Curatorial Assistant)
(Llandough Collection)
(March 2012 – December 2014)

Role: Working with and studying the human remains in the early Medieval Llandough collection. This involved the identification and recording of individual bones and signs of pathology as well as repackaging in accordance with the Museum’s storage policy of human remains.

Egypt Centre Swansea (Swansea University)

Gallery Assistant and Facilitator
(July 2010 – January 2012)
Role: To assist visitors by providing resources and information in order to provide a rewarding experience during their visit to the museum and to engage with visitors via the various activity centres (including a live mummification re-enactment using props and an artefacts handling board).

Additional Information

Memberships

Member of The Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East  (ASTENE)
Member of Egypt Exploration Society
Member of the Museums Association
Member of British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology (BANEA)

Personal website: http://cardiff.academia.edu/TessaBaber/