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EGYPTOLOGY IN URUGUAY

From: Prof. Juan Josť Castillos
Date: 27 May 1998
Time: 16:02:45
Remote Name: 206.99.45.17

Comments

At the 7th International Congress in Cambridge, UK, in 1995 we pointed out that if Egyptology is to thrive and develop, we feel that it has to obtain more widespread public support worldwide as a valid and worthwhile research topic, something that we think is not very clear nowadays in the general public's mind. People usually think it is just another exotic subject and not the in depth study of one of the most wonderful civilizations in the history of mankind. As a consequence, funds for ther creation of Chairs at universities on the subject and for archaeological projects are growing more scarce and young people are discouraged to take up the subject as something to devote their lives to. In Uruguay until 1980, when the Uruguayan Society of Egyptology was founded, all that people knew were content of books that were sold locally, some of them by prestigious, serious scholars, and the many OTHER publications by writers anxious to push their own fantastic, curious, speculative ideas on the subjects of ancient Egypt, which they would not get away with at the academic circles where their numerous shortcomings would be pointed out, but which were picked up by many people as gospel truth. So, we hear of the 10,000 year old sphinx and pyramids, of the mysterious knowledge of priests and occult masters, etc. etc. or people that in the Velikovsky tradition try to make a name for themselves gratuitously revolutionizing the accepted chronology of ancient world. The common denominator of all these people is that they solve our historical problems with a fiat, with their gifted intuition... and we were so naive to think that only sound methodology and hard work in the field or with the hard data was the only way to come to a better understanding of past events! The success we had in Uruguay with the people response was so great (in 1985 50,000 attended an exhibition of modern and ancient Egyptian art organized by us and by the local Egyptian Embassy), that in 1984 we founded a Uruguayan Institute of Egyptology and an Egyptian Museum. Government support hasn't come so far but we have about 30-50 new members every year and about 25 local students are with great difficulty completing their studies towards a Diploma in Egyptology. Our curriculum includes 20 basic courses on Archaeology, Ancient History, Egyptian Language, Egyptian History, Egyptian Literature, Art, Religion, Science and Technology and three mandatory courses on modern languages such as English, French and German. Students must pass the corresponding exams and write an original thesis on a subject of their choice in order to graduate. Every year we have a National Egyptological Contest in which prizes (books and other materials and a trophy) are given to the best papers presented, which in our opinion stimulates students to study Egyptology. Since we have no other resources to carry out all these activities than what scholars and institutions worldwide generously contribute, we appeal here to all who realize the importance of what we are trying to do for the worldwide expansion of our science, to contribute to the effort with the donation of books on Egyptology, Archaeology or Ancient History to be given as prizes in these contests. Whoever wants to know more about our institution or for any reason get in touch with us, they can write to: 4 de Julio 3068 Montevideo CP 11600, Uruguay or phone us at: 00598-2-628 0743 or FAX : 00598-2-622 5352 or leave an email at my address: juancast@yahoo.com. Thank you for your attention! J. J. Castillos

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