A message from MAES Chairman – Peter Phillips
Interest in Egyptology in the North West of England has long been particularly strong, ever since wealthy Victorian mill-owners became avid collectors of Egyptian artefacts and subsequently donated items that form the basis of many local museum collections. The introduction of inexpensive package tours has made it possible for increasing numbers of people to visit Egypt, something that used to be possible only for the very rich. More and more tourists have “fallen in love” with the country and become fascinated by the vast range of ancient monuments preserved in Egypt and the unequalled way in which, because of the early deciphering of the ancient language, we are today able to gain an ever-clearer picture of the ways in which people who lived several thousand years ago lived and viewed the world. A demand arose from interested amateur Egyptologists wanting to expand their knowledge without having to attend mostly London-based events intended for academics. And so, in 1987 the Manchester Amateur Egyptology Society was founded, later to be renamed the Manchester Ancient Egypt Society as its prestige grew.
In addition to our regular monthly lectures on Monday evenings in a central Manchester location, we organise at least one weekend study day each year and also arrange group visits to Museum collections both in the UK and abroad. Following a successful trip to the newly refurbished Egyptology Museum in Turin in 2015, for example, plans were initiated to visit Luxor in 2016. The political upheavals that Egypt has experienced in recent years have caused tourist numbers to the Nile Valley to drop dramatically, which perversely means that this is an ideal time to visit sites that in previous years suffered from overcrowding.
All clubs and societies face the threat of reducing numbers at meetings because of the time pressure on modern lives and the growth of the internet, where information can be obtained at the click of a button, but nothing can replace the opportunity to hear and question a live speaker. I became Chairman in June 2015 and hope to attract new members to the Society, especially younger people. Since Egyptology became part of the national curriculum for primary school children, many more young people have become interested in the subject and want to find out more. The Society will provide a warm welcome to any and all new members, of whatever age, and can provide a stepping stone into the professional world of Egyptology. Several people who, as interested amateurs, gave their first lecture at one of our meetings have gone on to make careers in Egyptology. Our programme of lectures is tailored to meet the needs of our membership, and includes presentations for those new to the subject as well as much to interest those with years of study behind them.
Come and join us!