Current projects

WASET – Wood as Social and Economic tracer in Thebes Egypt Middle Kingdom-Second Intermediate Period (ca. 2050-1550 BC)

The interdisciplinary WASET project brings together for the first time in Egyptology the across disciplines of archaeometry, art history, archaeology and text study to conduct a detailed analysis of the economic and social networks of wood in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (MK) and Second Intermediate Period (2IP) (ca. 2050-1550 BC) through a comprehensive study of wood funerary objects discovered in Thebes, the ancient Egyptian center known as Waset.
From the “world of the living” to the “realm of the dead”, following the routes of the woods and their evolution over the period, it will then be a question of “going beyond the frontier” whether regional, territorial, social and symbolic. Closely related to the research lines developed within the CIARQ Research Group of the University of Alcalá (, by crossing cultural sources and viewpoints, by examining intercultural connections, the role of wood as a “social tracer” will be examined within a key territory of Middle Bronze Age Egypt, Thebes. By reconnecting texts and materiality, identifying and mapping productions and workshops, the question of wood social uses and networks –but also the significant reality of gender notion for the access and use of wood– will be the key points of the project and will complement in an innovative way the work in progress at the University of Alcalá.

Six questions structure the project:

  1. Regional specificity: Are the wood productions discovered in the Theban area part of a global dynamics at the country level or are they specific to this region which seems to play a catalytic role in the early MK?
  2. Intraregionality: How can carpentry highlight the existence of workshops, the evolution of trade routes and the use of the natural landscape in the Theban area?
  3. Interregionality: Looking at political context, how might the study of trade routes from and to Thebes provide important insights into the official and non-official artisanal woodworking networks and the movement of goods and people during MK/2IP?
  4. Interculturality: How did contacts between the Theban province and Egypt’s neighboring countries shape wood networks and technological knowledge of the material?
  5. Texts and materiality: To what extent does the material production of wood corroborate the economic references and burial practices of wood identified in the MK/2IP funerary literature? Can local funerary markers specific to the Theban region be identified?
  6. Gender reality: Does the official and unofficial artisanal production of wood and its uses reveal gender specificities?

By responding these questions, the WASET project will highlight how wood and its uses are closely related with the other dimensions of its historical context (religious, political, cultural) between the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period

Medjehu members involved:

Gersande Eschenbrenner Diemer, Egyptologist/Wood anatomist