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Reuben Hutchinson-Wong

Archaeology, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Alteration to existing mortuary spaces and additional burials during the Old Kingdom through early Middle Kingdom (c.2686-c.1991 BCE)

This project examines the practice of adding additional burials into existing mortuary spaces, like tombs, during the Egyptian Old through Early Middle Kingdoms (c.2686–c.1991 BCE) to understand how the ancient Egyptians engaged with physical space to create a sense of ‘place.’

The project specifically uses alterations to mortuary space as a medium to explore ancient Egyptian engagements with these spaces.

Alteration broadly refers to changes that are done to the original, physical burial space. For example, changes made to accommodate new burials, like decorative/textual changes and the addition of burial shafts, are an example of alteration.

Using an original, interdisciplinary framework, my thesis explores how and why additional burials were integrated into existing mortuary spaces. My thesis also redresses and reframes prevailing colonial narratives regarding these alterations in modern academic discourse.

Most studies of additional burial generally categorise these additional burials as ‘intrusive’ or ‘secondary.’ A close analysis of Egyptian engagement with these spaces, however, shows that these burials were considered integral to the continuation of individual mortuary cults.

Redressing colonial interpretations critically reframes additional burials in scholarship to show that these burials are not inherently bad as often described.

Research Area

  • Archaeology

Publications

Forthcoming

Hutchinson-Wong, R.G., (2024) 'Let's lay the foundations: geomentality in ancient Egypt,' Current Research in Egyptology 23.

Submitted

Hutchinson-Wong, R.G., and G. Boswijk, 'Uncompromisingly unique: Tracing the origins of Waikūmete Cemetery in Auckland, New Zealand, 1870-1886.' 

Hutchinson-Wong, R.G., '“Ka korero mai ki au i whea ahau”: a biography of Katerina Nikorima, Ngāti Pou.'

Hutchinson-Wong, R.G., 'Ancient Egypt and the public in nineteenth-century Aotearoa New Zealand,' (Global history of the reception of ancient Egypt).

Conferences

2024

  • 'A grave error: The Teaching of Merikare and its continued use to discuss ancient Egyptian tomb reuse,' Current Research in Egyptology 24, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, 2–6 September 2024 (forthcoming).
  • 'It's a grave situation: tomb reuse in ancient Egypt' (poster), Postgraduate Research Festival, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, 1819 June 2024 (forthcoming).
  • '"Ka korero mai ki au i whea ahau": a biography of Katerina Nikorima, Ngāti Pou,' Nottingham Trent University History Postgraduate Conference 2024, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, 22 May 2024. 
  • ''Local & General': nineteenth-century New Zealand reception of ancient Egypt amongst the public,' Birmingham Egyptology Symposium, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, 2 May 2024. 
  • 'Labile tombs: an interdisciplinary framework to examine tomb reuse in the Old through early Middle Kingdoms,' North East Ancient Egypt Society Student Conference, Durham University, 27 April 2024. 
  • 'It’s a real grave situation: a conceptual framework to examine tomb reuse in the Old through early Middle Kingdoms,' Experimental and Experiential Approaches to Identity Formation in the Ancient world, University of Liverpool, 4-5 April 2024.

2023

  • 'Let's lay the foundation: geomentality in ancient Egypt,' Current Research in Egyptology 23, Universität Basel, Basel, 10–14 September 2023.

2022

  • 'We all say it's prominent, but what does Qubbet el-Hawa's placement tell us about its origins?' Australasian Egyptology Conference 6, Macquarie University, Sydney, 9–12 June 2022.

2018

  • 'Location, location, location: a look at Qubbet el-Hawa's regional placement in landscape' at Department of Classics and Ancient History's Day of Papers, Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, Auckland, November 2018.
  • 'Organising Old Kingdom bodies: a spatial consideration of the Qubbet el-Hawa necropolis near Aswan, to discuss memory, identity, and landscape' at Australasian Egyptology Conference 5, Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, Auckland, 7–9  September 2018.
  • 'Organising Old Kingdom bodies: a spatial consideration of the Qubbet el-Hawa necropolis near Aswan, to discuss memory, identity, and landscape' at AMPHORAE XII, Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, Auckland, 4–6 July 2018 (poster).
Conference organising
  • Birmingham Egyptology Symposium, University of Birmingham, 2 May 2024.
  • Egyptology PGR Community Event, University of Birmingham, 3 May 2024.
  • Current Research in Egyptology 2024, University of Liverpool, 2–6 September 2024.

Public Engagement & Impact

Birmingham Egyptology (2023–)
  • Web Coordinator
Rosetta Journal (2023–)
  • Articles Editor

Other Research Interests

  • Egyptology
  • Post-colonial and decolonial theory
  • Human Geography
  • Nineteenth century colonial history of Aotearoa New Zealand 

Memberships

New Zealand Egyptology Society (2022–)

  • General Committee Member (2022–2023)

About me

Kia ora! 你好! Hello!

My name is Reuben, an ancient historian from Aotearoa New Zealand who specialises in the study of ancient Egypt.

I am of mixed Pākehā–Chinese descent. Pākehā means New Zealand European in te reo Māori, the Māori language.

Before I joined the University of Birmingham as a doctoral researcher, I studied at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, New Zealand, where I completed my:

  • Master of Arts in Ancient History
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Ancient History
  • Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History and Geography, Senior Scholar

My master's thesis explored local Egyptian identity, memory, and relationships to landscape during the late Old Kingdom and early First Intermediate Period (c.2278–c.2150 BCE) at Qubbet el-Hawa, an ancient Egyptian cemetery near modern-day Aswan, Egypt.

In my earlier studies, I undertook research into colonial New Zealand cemeteries in Auckland and Whangārei. These studies explored the influence of national and international trends in the treatment of the dead, and placement and layout of cemeteries during the second half of the nineteenth century.

I also wrote a dissertation examining what the titularies of royal women during the Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom (c.3000–c.2200 BCE) said about their status in society.

Since completing my studies, I have worked as a researcher for the History of Egypt podcast, specialising in research of Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period scholarship.

I also worked at the University of Auckland as a Content Curator where I curated web and email content for student use, including the need for accessibility, student voice, and use of plain language.

In my spare time, I enjoy learning about nineteenth century colonial New Zealand history. Most recently, I researched a little known Māori woman, Katerina Nikorima, and her ambiguous position in colonial New Zealand history. This is to reclaim her story from history and make it available for future generations.

I am also an avid genealogist, especially my ancestor's life histories. I am particularly interested in the journeys that my ancestors made to Aotearoa New Zealand over the last 230 years from Britain, Germany, and China, either directly or via Australia and Malaysia.

Other activities

Researcher for History of Egypt podcast, (2021–), specialising in Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period.

Transcriber for the Egypt Centre in Swansea (2024–), helping with the Hilton Price Collection project. 

Previous education

Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland

  • Master of Arts (Ancient History), 2018–2019
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (Ancient History), 2017. As part of the Honours programme, I also completed two Geography courses
  • Bachelor of Arts (Ancient History and Geography), 2014–2016, Senior Scholar