Sunday at UCLA
Reporter: Kawthar ElBishwali
The NASA Sharp expanded our appreciation for other cultures by taking us to the Near Eastern Language and Cultures Conference, where The Archaeology of Ritual: Ancient Egyptian Sun Cults were presented, and the Fowler Museum Family Festival: Ethiopia. Both of these programs were attended on Sunday, June 26, 2005. The Near Eastern Language and Cultures conference’s topics included Egyptian Religion and the Sky (Kandace Pansire), Solar and Stellar Alignments in Nabta Playa (Eric Wells), Heliopolis and Piye: Iunuin Word and Deed (Bill Gordon), A Bright Idea; Solar Architecture of the Old Kingdom (Erica Ellis), The Mnevis Bull and the Ancient Egyptian Cattle Cult (Marianna Betti), Tombs and Temples: Solar Reflections in the Archaeological Record of Tell el-Amarna (Kandace Pansire), Pre- and Post- Amarna Sun Shrines(Willeke Wendrich), The Ba, the Body, and the Building: the Unification of Osiris and Ra and the Edifice of Taharqa (Samantha Ricketts). The conference began with the introduction to the Sun God and what it meant to the ancient Egyptians. Later an introduction was given about the Egyptian religion and the sky. A brief background of religion and the solar cult becoming relevant was discussed. The Solar god was the act of creation. The theory of solar theology is that when the sun set it dies and descends into the underworld and fights demons there but when it rises it is reborn and a new creation comes into the sky. The Sun God therefore is the supreme act of creation. The Sun god is the ruler of creation and the pharaoh is his offspring. The king therefore is responsible for creating rituals, building statues and temples in honor of the Sun God. Later on the different forms of the Sun God were discussed which included the symbol of birth and death- constant self regeneration, Benu bird, and heavenly cow. The region Nabta Playa was a Neolithic site and traced early roots of Egyptian cult activity. The area produced and maintained plants. They also created ancient colsolar calendar. They found shrines were the tribe was believed to be located which indicated cult like rituals. Also aside form shrines also they found ritual cattle burials. This Nabta Playa region was once very fertile but soon became dry and its inhabitants had to move to land suitable to living conditions. This is a very important discovery for Egyptologists because this region’s people could have possibly helped shape earlier Egyptian civilization.
Later that day we attended the UCLA Fowler Museum to enjoy music, food, and the arts in conjunction with exhibitions “Painting Ethiopia and Ethiopian Crossroads”. Throughout the day we heard live music, attended art workshops, ate Ethiopian food, played games, listened to storytelling, watched an Ethiopian fashion show, and saw a coffee ceremony. The day was jam packed and we were immersed in the Ethiopian culture.