Episode 41: The Oasis

Senuseret II and the Faiyum Oasis.

In c.1892 BCE a new king is on the throne. Kha-kheper-Re Senuseret II is a minor king who hasn’t left a particularly grand legacy. However, he is responsible for one incredibly interesting project…

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The king himself (Source: TourEgypt.net).

The pyramid of Senusret II, at Lahun. (DePual University).

The crown of Sat-Hathor-Iunet, daughter of Senusret II (Wikipedia).

The crown, as displayed (TourEgypt.net).

The pectoral of Sat-Hathor-Iunet (Wikipedia).


Wolfram Grajetzki – The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt2006.

Nicolas Grimal – A History of Egypt1994.

Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton – The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt2010.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Danielle W. says:

    Concerning the epilogue: I am someone doing research from afar and rely heavily on googled images as I can’t go to the sites myself yet. I’ve heard rumors that many of the online images are photoshopped to fit propaganda (OMG the color debate is nauseating).
    I trust your images though, as you’ve been there – and would most likel
    y notice a discrepancy. Could I get your professional opinion on how to portray Thebans? I’m designing a game that features 12th dynasty Upper Egypt and I’m worried I’ll portray them wrong

    1. DominicPerry says:

      If in doubt, never use an online image unless it comes from a reputable source (JSTOR, Artstor, museum websites etc.) The best sources for accurate images are always academic publications, because historians are ruthless with their criticisms if anything is inaccurate.

      For colouring Thebans: some of them should be red-brown, some should be black-brown. This is the “ethnic” mix you see in the ancient art and is generally considered a reflection of reality: lots of Nubians, lots of Nubo-Egyptians, and lots of “classic” Egyptians.

    2. Danielle W. says:

      Also, most of my books show images like yours. However, I read online everywhere that modern Egyptians have not changed appearance for thousands of years. Yet when I google modern Egyptians they look nothing like the paintings. As someone who needs to know as many details as possible (I need to model their likeness after all), it can get quite confusing.

      Also, what is your opinion on their hair? The ‘comment swamp’ of other sites suggest anything other than super straight is Afrocentrism.

      It’s hard to wade through everything online. I appreciate your podcast very much. You make them human, not self serving props. 🙂

      1. DominicPerry says:

        Modern Egyptians come in many shades and the country includes multiple ethnic groups: broadly speaking, those from the North tend to be a bit lighter/fairer, while those in the South tend to be darker. The country has a blend of different ethnic groups, including “Egyptians,” Nubians, Berbers, Beja and Romani (gypsies).

        For the ancient example: one key fact to remember is that Egyptian art is not strictly representational / portraiture. Almost all images are idealised in some form – made to fit conventions of beauty, costume, accessories and facial features. Look to images like Kaaper (the Sheikh of Balad), Ramose + Nofret, Queen Tiye (a wooden head from Gurob), the various mummies (Yuya, Tuya, pharaohs etc) for a broad overview of facial features and skin colouration. As you’ll see, there is a lot of variation within the surviving examples – ancient artists weren’t interested in the nuances because that wasn’t what they were trying to achieve.

        I hope this helps clear up any confusion.

  2. Danielle W. says:

    Wow, you reply fast!

    1. Danielle W. says:

      Thanks for the reply, I think I was writing my afterthought while you were writing your response. Awesome podcast, thanks for the info!

      1. DominicPerry says:

        You’re welcome 🙂 I’m here to help. What is your game about, if I may ask?

      2. Danielle W. says:

        I’m waiting for one more book in the mail (about Nubia) before I decide on a firm plot. Only a few things are certain at this point:
        – I want common people to be in the forefront (though kings and queens are interesting, I want to show more of how their decisions affect everyone else – though I’m sure elites will be featured as well because some of their stories are just too interesting not to touch on)
        – I also wanted to feature the various trades, from spinners to scribes – maybe detailing the linen making process or what mobility there was between professions. Which also brings up a question about priestesses and literacy. Priests are literate, and being a scribe is a stepping stone yes? Yet in Szpakowska’s ‘Daily Life in Ancient Egypt’ it seems that being a woman scribe was extremely rare – yet priestesses abound. Sorry, off topic. I’m confused daily.
        – I love astronomy and would love to teach a sort of ‘star navigation’ system in the game (using only the constellations the ancients knew…). Minimal HUD, all sensory.
        – Egyptian festivals and seasons
        – I’m still slowly learning Egyptian so I’m not sure if that’s going to be taught in the game either….
        – I wanted to explore Nubia as well and the culture there. It’s open world so it might stretch from Thebes to Kerma. I’m still learning and I feel ambitious (maybe insane)…

        Sorry for the rambling, this project is very close to my heart. I want to make games that teach history in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s teaching history. As soon as I get this last book (“last book”, hahaha) – I’ll write the script for the main story and sides missions.

        There’s more rambling but this is already an anti-elevator pitch. 😀
        Written on a phone so sorry for typos or auto completes I miss…

        I just think it’s time to sweat the details when games try to recreate time periods – video games are arguably untapped tools for learning.

        I hope I hit the right button so this response appears in the right place…

  3. DominicPerry says:

    Sounds interesting 🙂 Let me know how it goes – I’d be interested to watch it’s progress.

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