Université de Strasbourg

Frédéric Colin


Archaeology and Ancient History in the Mediterranean Area (ArcHiMedE), University of Strasbourg and CNRS

Frédéric Colin, USIAS Fellow 2019

Frédéric Colin received his PhD in 1996 from the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and his habilitation to conduct research in 2006 from the Marc Bloch University (Strasbourg). He was, successively, an aspirant and then a research fellow of the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) from 1992-1998, and a foreign scientific member of the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) in Cairo, Egypt from 1996-1998. He subsequently moved to the University of Strasbourg, where he lectured in Greek history (1998-2006) and Egyptology (2006-2007), before being appointed as professor of Egyptology, director of the Institute of Egyptology, and curator of the Egyptian collection at the University of Strasbourg (2007-). Frédéric Colin was also director of the IFAO archaeological mission in the Bahariya oasis (Egypt, 1997-2014), junior member of the Institut universitaire de France (2002-2007) and director of the research unit Archaeology and Ancient History in the Mediterranean Area (ArcHiMedE)  from 2013-2017. In recent years, he has been principal investigator of three interdisciplinary projects in the Humanities and Social Sciences / Science and Technology.

Frédéric Colin carries out research in archaeology (excavations in the Bahariya oasis, in Fayoum and in the Assasif valley, museological studies on the Egyptian collections housed in Strasbourg), philology (editing unpublished texts, particularly in demotic writing, but also in the other Egyptian writings) and history (history and institutions of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt based on data from multilingual, Egyptian and Greek papyrology). He also works on the New Kingdom and the Pharaonic Late Period in connection with his field research.

End of November 2019, while doing field work for his USIAS research project, Frédéric Colin and his team discovered three sarcophagi dating from the 18th dynasty, during an archaeological dig together with the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) near Luxor in Egypt. More information

Project - Digital Archaeology in a Monumental Necropolis in Thebes in Egypt

01/09/2019 - 30/09/2022

The USIAS project involves a collaboration between the ArcHiMedE unit of the University of Strasbourg and the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO). The aim is to conduct an archaeological study in the area of the funerary temple of Petamenope, a vast monument of the Late Pharaonic Period (8th - 7th century BC) located in the Assasif, downstream to Deir el-Bahari, in West-Thebes, which has never been studied through stratigraphic excavations. It will involve egyptologists and archaeologists, geophysicists, soil scientists, sedimentologists and archaeometric specialists. Any burials discovered will be studied according to current archaeo-anthropological methods, in order to reconstitute the physical actions and gestures of death professionals and to detect their possible evolution from an anthropological perspective. If natural deposits are archived in the stratigraphy, they will be studied to reconstruct the palaeo-environment, to compare with climatic phenomena previously observed by the team in the oasis of Bahariya. Particular emphasis will be placed on the global study of the entire funeral valley using urban archaeology methods, considering the evolutions and transformations of its districts in the image of those of a city, taking the concept of a “necro-polis” in the true sense of its etymology. The diachronic perspective will certainly aim to clarify the evolution of the mausoleum of Padiamenope itself, but it will also pursue the more general purpose of better understanding the development of the whole necropolis, according to a broad contextual approach. In parallel with these thematic issues, the project will also aim at improving field protocols for recording artefacts and structures using digital methods.

The team will consider the excavation not only as an operation that produces data underpinning archaeological interpretation, but also, in an innovative way, as an experimental laboratory for methodological improvement. They will use and develop the latest advances in digital archaeology. Photogrammetric records and digital reconstructions of stratigraphy will be systematically built phase-by-phase as the excavation progresses. They will interconnect, in a common virtual space, the data from the archaeological, geochemical and geophysical studies to both support collective reflection and produce documents in two or three dimensions for publication. A protocol will combine the requirements of proven methods of publishing Egyptian archaeological objects with the new benefits of digitally modelling complex volumes. Egyptian art often combines text-editing questions and artefact analysis problems on the same object. How to consider simultaneously a two-dimensional space (the plane of the text) and a three-dimensional space (the volume of the object)?

Because of the terrorist attacks in the Egyptian desert in 2014 and 2015, the University of Strasbourg had to suspend its excavation projects in Egypt for two years. One of the concrete results of the new project will be to develop a new “training site” (in a less isolated area) dedicated to archaeological innovation in the field. The methodology will also rely on laboratory-led experiments of digital recording carried out at home between two field campaigns, thanks to the university collections hosted in Strasbourg since the 19th Century.

To conclude, the project will pursue a twofold ambition. 1. Contributing to the understanding of the history of a Theban necropolis, which has been intensively developed by the builders of the ruling elites since at least the 11th Dynasty until the Late Period and beyond. 2. Actively participating in the implementation of new publishing protocols resulting from the ongoing digital revolution and encouraging the rapid pre-publication in open access of data issued from archaeological research in progress.

Research assistant biography - Cassandre Hartenstein

Archaeology and Ancient History in the Mediterranean Area (ArcHiMedE), University of Strasbourg and CNRS

Cassandre Hartenstein

Cassandre Hartenstein holds a master’s degree in sciences of antiquity from the University of Strasbourg (France), with a specialty in Egyptology, papyrology and ancient history. Since the beginning of her studies, she has been working towards developing interdisciplinary skills in both classical Egyptology and Greek and Demotic papyrology.

Her research focuses on three areas: 1. The history of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt according to Greek and Demotic texts, especially in her ongoing PhD thesis with a focus on the origins and the evolution of associations in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, which is being carried out under the supervision of Professor Paul Heilporng. 2. The study of Egyptian artefacts from a transperiod perspective, which examines museum collections (Strasbourg University’s Egyptian collection) as well as archeological sites (excavations in Qaret el-Toub, Qasr’Allam, Asasif and, in collaboration with Taïwan University, of Philadelphia in the Fayum). In 2020, her work on the Strasbourg collection successfully led to the creation of a “Carnet Hypothèse” called Recollecta Ægyptiaca, of which she is the editor. 3. The history of Egyptology and development of collections, based on archives from the 19th and 20th century.

During Strasbourg University’s excavation projects in Asasif in 2018 and 2019, Cassandre Hartenstein was part of the discovery of an extraordinary funerary deposit dating from the 18th dynasty, and helped to make digital and topographical recordings. She excavated the micro-stratigraphy of the coffins and studied material taken from them. Within the USIAS project, she is in charge of the management and promotion of digital data and is responsible for the study of the coffins and related materials.


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