9th Experimental Archaeology Conference poster – McAleely

The experimental recreation of an ancient Egyptian garland and its interpretation derived from two types of knowledge; practical knowledge (savoir faire) and factual knowledge (connaissance)

Sally McAleely

University College London

This paper will discuss how experimental archaeology and two different types of knowledge, namely savoir faire and connaissance, can be used together to inform and aid archaeological interpretation of plant based technologies and artefacts.

Organic remains in the form of deliberately placed plant material, prearranged to make bouquets, garlands, pillows and floral collars, are material cultural objects often used as offerings or honoraria. Examples have been excavated from a number of archaeological sites and provide evidence for a long-standing cross-cultural human behavioural trait which has continued to the present day. The author analysed the technology involved in constructing a
garland using the theoretical concept of the chaîne opératoire, and then used the species identified in an extant fragment of Ramesses II’s garland excavated from tomb TT320 to recreate a short length of garland. By discussing extant artefacts from ancient Egypt where organic preservation is often remarkable, the author also highlights the wealth of data about plant based technologies held in the ancient Egyptian corpus which is available to other branches of archaeology.

Knowledge can be categorised in various ways, and this paper aims to show how data from two distinct ‘ways of knowing’ can provide complementary lines of evidence. The author will show how practical knowledge gained by experience (savoir faire) during the experimental recreation of Ramesses II’s funerary garland was used in conjunction with factual knowledge (connaissance) from artefact analysis and 14C dating to aid interpretation of both the garland and the radiocarbon results, and led to a re-evaluation of the burial data and the accredited

McAleely, S. 2007. Experimental Recreation of the Funerary Garland of Ramesses II. In A New Year At Kew. BBC2 television, broadcast February 2007

McAleely, S. 2013, Garlands from the Deir el-Bahri Cache. In A. J. Shortland and C Bronk Ramsey (eds), Radiocarbon and the Chronologies of Ancient Egypt. Oxbow Books: Oxford


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