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Individual Scholarship

2000–2001 Annual Report

Robert K. Ritner

Robert Ritner’s year was bracketed by appearances at the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London, with the grant of tenure in between. On 30 September, he participated in the Louvre symposium La magié en Égypte: À la recherche d’une définition, where he detailed evidence for “Necromancy in Ancient Egypt.” The theme of magic was continued in several additional lectures, with an analysis of “Egyptian Medicine and Magic” at the Oriental Institute on 11 November and “An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Magic” presented on 4 April at Johns Hopkins University. The latter talk served as the annual Ancient Near Eastern Studies Student Association (ANShE) lecture, an invited presentation selected and hosted by graduate students in Near Eastern studies.

Prior to the Fall Quarter, he provided three lectures for the Egypt Summer School series sponsored by the University of Chicago Graham School and the Oriental Institute: “The Late New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period,” “Mummies and Forensics,” and “Medicine and Magic” (24-28 July). In company with Zahi Hawass, Mark Lehner, Kent Weeks, and Salima Ikram, he participated in the symposium “Egypt Revealed II” in Dallas on 16-17 September, speaking on “Theory and Practice in Ancient Egyptian Magic and Medicine.”

Throughout the year, he has acted as the sole Egyptology consultant for the Chicago venue of the exhibit Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth, organized by the British Museum and sponsored locally by The Field Museum with the collaboration of the Oriental Institute. This responsibility included review and revisions of labels for the more than 300 pieces included in the show, as well as participation as Panel Chair in the British Museum Twenty-fifth Classical Colloquium, “Cleopatra Reassessed,” held in London on 14 June.

Publications included “Necromancy in Ancient Egypt,” in Magic and Divination in the Ancient World, edited by Leda Ciraolo and Jonathan Seidel; and “Dream Books,” “Magic: an Overview,” “Magic: Magic in Medicine,” “Magic: Magic in Daily Life,” “Magic: Magic in the Afterlife,” “Medicine,” and “Neferti,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, edited by Donald B. Redford. During the year, Ritner completed the translations for his monograph The Libyan Anarchy: Documents from Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period as well as 13 texts for the revised version of The Literature of Ancient Egypt, edited by William Kelly Simpson. In addition, he composed an article on the origins of Demotic legal terminology, provided editorial review for the Egyptian sections of the forthcoming third volume of The Context of Scripture, and acted as a consultant for the Journal of the American Medical Association and for a new installation at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago.

From 1 to 17 February, he led the annual Oriental Institute tour of Egypt, remaining in Luxor for an additional week of personal research and consultation with the Epigraphic Survey. The Institute tour, assisted by guide Walid el-Batouty and facilitator Hisham el-Sebai of Egitalloyd Tours, was one of the most extensive in years, with an enthusiastic group that pressed on to view an unscheduled five tombs (in lieu of lunch) on the first day alone. A tour reunion was held on 21 April.

Ritner was filmed as a commentator for “Egypt: Land of Gods,” destined for the History Channel, and for the Fox Network’s “In Search of …” program on the supposed Tutankhamun tomb curse. With the release of the film “The Mummy Returns,” his translations of magical spells appeared on the website AOL Moviefone. When not lecturing, composing or consulting, he taught five courses on language and religion in addition to student supervision and University committee service.

Revised: June 6, 2007

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