Sunday, 3 Nov, was the first day of the XIIth International Congress of Egyptologists (ICE) which is being held at the Mena House Hotel, Giza, Egypt.
The first item on the schedule was the General Assembly of the International Association. The Assembly provides the opportunity for the Presidium to discuss the recent activities of the Association and other important business with the membership.
The outgoing President, Dr Chris Naunton, opened the meeting by thanking the organising committee of the XIIth ICE, and in particular colleagues from the Ministry of Antiquities who had gone to such lengths to arrange the forthcoming event, at which over five hundred Egyptologists would present the results of their latest work. He noted that the organisation of any such event on this scale was a very considerable undertaking and felt sure that all participants and members of the IAE would wish to express their gratitude to the organisers and in particular to His Excellency, the Minister of Antiquities, Prof Dr Khaled el-Enany for his generous support.
According to the Statutes of the Association:
4.3.5: The Presidium shall be elected for the period between the meetings of the General Assembly by all voting members of the Association…”
The incumbent President, Vice-President and Secretary General had all signalled earlier in 2019 that they would be stepping down at the XIIth Congress and therefore nominations for all three positions were sought. The candidates were invited to submit proposals for the future activities of the Association which were made available to the membership. The subsequent electronic vote resulted in the election of the following:
As President of the International Association: Professor Willeke Wendrich, UCLA
As Vice President: Professor Dr Tarek Tawfik, Cairo University
The Secretariat received one nomination for the post of Secretary General, the candidate being Professor Dr Richard Bussman, University of Cologne, Germany. Prof Dr Bussmann was a well-known and respected member of the International Egyptological community who has held permanent positions in the UK and in Germany and has extensive experience of working in Egypt as well. He was eminently qualified to undertake the role of Secretary General.
The new Presidium had already met and had indicate their willingness to discuss their ideas for the Association with members in the days following the General Assembly.
Dr Naunton paid tribute to the hard work of his colleagues, as Vice President, Prof Laure Pantalacci, and the Secretary General Prof Dr Ursula Verhoeven, over the previous four years. He emphased that both had given up their spare time to undertake the work of the Association in addition to very busy and responsible university positions. Professor Pantalacci had held the role of Vice-President for 11 years since the Xth International Congress in Rhodes; Prof Dr Verhoeven had been Secretary General for 10 years, since 2009. Dr Naunton expressed his gratitude to them both on behalf of all members of the International Association for their years of service.
Prof Dr Pantalacci also expressed her gratitude to the membership for electing her to serve two terms as Vice-President, and for the hard work and support of her colleagues.
Dr Naunton also thanked Dr Silke Roth who had provided vital administrative assistance to the Secretary General since 2009 and would be stepping down from her role at the end of 2019. He emphasised that without the Dr Roth’s efforts and those of the Secretary General in the day-to-day running of the Association it could not continue to function.
Dr Naunton also thanked, on behalf of the other members of the outgoing Presidium, and the wider membership of the IAE, Professors Wendrich, Tawfik and Bussman for their willingness to take on their new roles. He noted that it had been a pleasure and an honour to serve the Association, but that the work of the Presidium was at times not easy, and always time consuming. The outgoing leadership team were extremely grateful to the new members of the Presidium for their willingness to take on the running of the organisation. They also wished the new team every success in their work for the Association in the coming years.
Dr Naunton reminded the members that the Council was composed of three representatives from Egypt, one each from all countries with ten or more professional members, and, ex officio, the Minister of Antiquities from Egypt as well as from Sudan, three representatives of the foreign institutes in Cairo, and the Secretary of the International Committee for Egyptian and Sudanese Collections (CIPEG). He thanked those who had served as representatives in the previous four years for their constant support and guidance in the Association’s activities. Dr Naunton also noted that several countries, including Australia, China, Japan, Russia and Scandinavia, were represented by slightly fewer than ten members and asked members in those countries to encourage their colleagues to join so that they could be represented on the Council.
A meeting of the Council would take place in the days following the General Assembly and would be led by the new Presidium.
Activities, finances, membership
The Secretary General, Prof. Dr. Ursula Verhoeven, gave a presentation on the Association’s activities, finances and membership figures since the last Congress.
Prof Dr Verhoeven drew attention in particular to the Association’s current financial position. Subscription fees generated a steady annual income but with a ‘spike’ in the year leading up to each Congress, including 2018-19, as those wishing to present at the Congress were required to be fully-paid members of the Association.
The Association had continued to support the Online Egyptological Bibliography (OEB) by offering subscription to the service as a part of an enhanced membership of the Association. Accordingly a significant proportion of the Association’s revenue had been passed directly to the OEB each year. In addition the Association had also made further contributions to the Bibliography in 2017 and 2018, of 5,000 EUROs (2015: 10,000 EUROs).
Support for the OEB therefore represented the largest single item of expenditure for the Association. Significant resources were also required for administration in the for of payments to Dr Roth, for bank charges and the maintenance of the Association’s website and e-mail accounts.
It was hoped that the Association would be able to expand its activities in future, but the membership were reminded that increased resources and therefore an increase in the number of subscriptions would be required for that to happen.
Revision to the Statutes
Dr Naunton reminded the membership it has been the Presidium’s intention for some time to revise the Statutes of the Association. Certain alterations were required so as to allow for formal business to be transacted remotely, i. e. online or via e-mail etc. This had already proven necessary in the past when members were asked to decide on the venue for the next congress, and to elect a new President and Vice President.
The Presidium had met in Lyon in August 2018 to discuss the necessary revisions, taking the opportunity to review them comprehensively to ensure that they were fit-for-purpose, and would continue to be so into the future. The members of the Council of the IAE had also reviewed the draft and the latest version also incorporated their suggestions etc.
The final draft was made available via the Association’s website in February 2019. The most substantive adjustments were as follows:
• The membership categories (section 3) were redefined.
• Members would now be asked to uphold a ‘Code of Professional and Ethical Standards’ in their Egyptological Activities. The code, which includes stipulations concerning the trade in antiquities, was added as a new Annex to the Statutes (Annex 1).
• References to the Presidium, Council and General Assembly were revised to reflect current practices. References to ‘local secretariats’, which no longer had any practical function now that subscriptions were gathered centrally via the IAE website, were removed.
• Provisions have now been made to allow decisions to be made electronically, in particular on the venue for International Congress (Annex 2) and composition of the Presidium (Annex 3).
Members were asked to review the draft and to provide any comments they might have no later than Friday 2 August 2019.
Dr Naunton asked those in attendance to signal their approval of the new statutes via a show of hands. A majority of those present signalled their approval; none signalled disapproval. The changes were therefore thereby approved and the new version would be made available on the Association’s website as soon as possible after the Assembly.
Dr Naunton reported that following its call for bids the Secretariat received only one proposal to host the next Congress, from representatives of a group of institutions based in Leiden, The Netherlands, headed by Professor Dr Olaf Kaper, Professor of Egyptology at the University. Leiden had a very strong and long-established tradition of scholarship in Egyptology, Near Eastern Studies and other related disciplines. The bid had clearly been very thoroughly prepared and was supported by representatives of a number of academic and other institutions in the city, and was excellent in all respects. A prospectus prepared by the organising committee had been available via the IAE website in July 2019.
The Presidium were very grateful to their colleagues in Leiden for their willingness to host the Congress, which plays a vital role in uniting Egyptologists round the world. As there had been no other bids to host the Congress in 2023 members acceptance of the bid had been taken as read.
Dr Naunton expressed his gratitude to those in attendance for their participation in the Assembly, and wished all those present a wonderful Congress.