Middle East Studies Center Lecture Series: Forgotten Fortress: Excavating Egypt’s Ancient Empire
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 7:30pm
Middle East Studies Center Lecture Series: Forgotten Fortress: Excavating Egypt’s Ancient Empire

Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 236, 1825 SW Broadway
Free admission & open to the public


The Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom intended to make a strong statement to the land of Nubia to the south by building a string of impregnable fortifications in and along the Nile River. Sturdy mudbrick fortresses proclaimed Egypt’s military presence. Yet they were built well in excess of what was needed to militarily defend the border. They were intended as a symbol of the Egyptian Empire’s power and might over Nubia. 

Most of the fortresses were destroyed by the rising waters of Lake Nassar when Egypt built the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s.  Since then, no archaeological work has taken place in the region — until now. 

The fortress of Uronarti occupies a currently uninhabited island in the Nile River in northern Sudan. Here, where the 12th Dynasty Egyptian kings maintained their strategic dominance, archaeologists are using modern techniques to “rediscover” Uronarti in ways not possible in the 1930s when it was last excavated.  In her slide-illustrated lecture, Dr Bestock reports on how returning to Uronarti is not only producing new insights into the system of military forts, it is also redefining how the ancient Egyptian and Nubian cultures interacted


Dr Laurel Bestock is Assistant Professor of Egyptology and Archaeology at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to teaching, Dr Bestock is unabashedly enthusiastic about her interest in fieldwork and excavations.  She has excavated principally in southern Egypt and in the Sudan. In 2012, Dr Bestock’s team began a new exploration of Uronarti, the great 12th Dynasty fortification. She also directs Brown’s dig site at Abydos, a most important site for understanding the rise of pharaonic civilization.  She received her MA and PhD in Egyptian archaeology and art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; she joined the faculty of Brown after a brief stint at the Metropolitan Museum.


The Oregon Chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt is a private, nonprofit organization that supports research on all aspects of Egyptian history and culture, fosters broader knowledge among the general public, and strengthens American-Egyptian cultural ties.

The Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education's Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library. | | 503-725-4074