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RESCHEDULED: Salt of the Earth: Coptic Life and Death in Byzantine Middle Egypt at Tell El-Hibeh



Annual Joint DC-CAS/ESS Meeting (Virtual Only)

The presentation by Dr. Robert Yohe II has been rescheduled as a virtual meeting due to technical difficulties encountered during the original August 14, 2023 hybrid meeting. Our apologies to those who were in attendance. Members will receive a Zoom link a few days prior to the meeting. If you are not a member and wish to attend this rescheduled meeting, please click on the “Email Us to Attend This Meeting” to contact us to receive the Zoom link.

Speaker: Dr. Robert M. Yohe II PhD, RPA, Associate Director, Tell El-Hibeh Project and Professor of Anthropology, California State University-Bakersfield

(Speaker will be presenting online)

Abstract: Between 2003 and 2017, Dr. Robert M. Yohe II conducted research at the archaeological site of Tell-Hibeh as part of the University of California, Berkeley Egyptian archaeological team. The site is located in the Beni Suef Governorate of Middle Egypt, approximately 130 miles south of Cairo. In Coptic times, the ancient town was known as Teudjoi (Coptic for “their walls”). During Greco-Roman times, the town was known as Ankyronpolis. Today, it is known to scholars as Tell-Hibeh. Yohe’s responsibilities at Tell-Hibeh centered upon the assessment and recovery of human remains, mummified and otherwise. A test excavation of a feature called the North Gate Looter Pit (NGLP) was carried out by Yohe which resulted in the recovery of numerous Christian “mummies”. The NGLP was thought to be a large “illicit” excavation pit into a post-2nd Century AD/CE Roman Trash dump located outside the north gate of the town. The NGLP had been made a high priority due to the exposure of partial mummies. Later reassessment concluded the disturbance was the result of the 1901 excavations carried out by Bernard S. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt in their search for ancient papyri documents. This presentation will focus upon the research results on the human remains recovered from the NGLP Coptic cemetery, which provide significant insight into the transition from pagan mummification practices to what would come to be recognized as more “traditional” Christian treatment of the dead. Research to-date includes a necropsy with endoscopic work on NGLP-7, one of the best-preserved individuals, osteological analysis of Mummy NGLP-8, and radiographic imaging of six Coptic mummies recovered in 2004. Additionally, radiocarbon dates were obtained from the NGLP-7 and NGLP-8 individuals. The implication of this research will be discussed.

Bio: Dr. Yohe has been doing archaeological research in Western North America for the past 43 years, with an emphasis on the archaeology of desert hunter-gatherers of California, the Great Basin, and the Plateau. In 2003, Yohe became the zooarchaeologist and human osteologist for the University of California, Berkeley Tell El-Hibeh Project and was later appointed as an Associate Director of the project in 2007. He is currently a Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Bakersfield, where he has taught for the past 24 years. His areas of expertise include zooarchaeology, replicative lithic technology, human osteology and forensic anthropology as well as the use of immunological methods of protein residue analysis on stone tools and human paleofeces.


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