It is not that often that something will prevent us from returning to our blogging activities as announced, but this time things developed so fast and so nice in England that it was inevitable that we did not manage to report while in Leicester! Too much to do, very little time online, many experiences to digest – and all leaving us with such a positive feeling in the end! So, now, back to Bergen, we edit for the third time the title of this entry and here comes the first of our reports from this trip:
The new month came to our homestead in Bergen like rain running down our window in the form of the thin but abundant drops that the Norwegians call yr and that makes one feel like swimming when out under the sky… Is it perhaps why one of the most traditional songs about Bergen claims that “we have [an environment] like the fish in the water”!?!
Well, it is strange that traveling to England means that we “escaped” this weather! For we were lucky enough to find open skies already when flying over the channel that separates England from the continent.
And we can not avoid commenting about the amazing views of the landscape one gets when flying in clear skies. Look in what picturesque manner the authority of the powerful in England has been traced on the ground of the green island (“eng” means green fields in Norwegian)…
However, the reason for visiting Leicester was not so as to admire the castles and masons of the British aristocracy north of London. The reason was the seminary
organized at the University of Leicester by Ruth Humphreys, PhD student in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, and her supervisor, David Edwards
, author of one of the best and most recent monographes on the history and archaeology of Nubia and Sudan from prehistory to the post-Medieval era, titled “The Nubian Past
Lately, Edwards also edited “The Archaeology of a Nubian Frontier. Survey on the Nile Third Cataract, Sudan”. We purchased a copy of this very important contribution to the research of the past of the Middle Nile Valley and we promise a review of this book a.s.a.p.
Back to the memories from Leicester, one has to remember that with a child, it would be impossible for both Henriette and Alexandros to participate at the conference. So, while Henriette was at the conference (about which she will prepare a separate report in the coming days), Alexandros had the chance, the honor, and the pleasure to discover Leicester with the company of his son and here follow some photos from their itineraries.
The first day started at the War Memorial…
…which is a characteristic example of the difference in what sort of attractions each one’s attention turned to, when after the initial interest in the main monument the gaze explored the surrounding landscape and activities:
Ilias got “naturally” interested in the tractor working near by, while Alexandros, having started his duties as kollokviegruppeleder for the course on South-East Asian religions at the University of Bergen…
…could not miss the India-related detail above the gate of the War Memorial.
Leicester has, in fact, strong ties with the Indian world, dating back to 1972 when Idi Amin
expelled the Asian community from Uganda. 10.000 of the Indians of Uganda found refuge at Leicester.
Being the one deciding the details of the itinerary followed during our wanderings in town, Alexandros took Ilias after the War Memorial to the New Walk Museum
where an exhibition with the eloquent title “From Kampala to Leicester” is taking place these days.
In the same museum, two more things attracted Alexandros’ attention.
The first was a “Charm gown with Islamic inscriptions and protective amulets based on texts from the Koran to guard the wearer from evil”. It was made in Nigeria by cotton and leather in the mid- or late 20th century, as the label of the museum explained. It is posted as a gesture of very friendly greetings to our most devoted and active reader, Irini Gonou. Salamat ya Umm Ilias
And the second thing that we wished to comment upon was a detail in the entrance of the Egyptian Gallery that the New Walk Museum presents:
So, somewhere in the beautiful town of Leicester lie the beginnings of one of the largest travel agencies in the world, one of the first to bring tourists from Europe along the Nile. A very interesting story of direct contact with antiquities, both for narrating it, but also for commenting very critically upon it…
In the meantime, although Ilias had the chance to contemplate showcases of his interest too…
…once again the law of the elder was applied and another museum was visited: The Jewry Wall Museum
, housing in the area of the Roman baths, a very rich archaeological collection from the prehistoric up to the medieval eras of the past of Leicester. What attracted Alexandros’ attention mostly there, was a detail from a known Roman mosaic found at Ratae Corieltauvorum
, the Roman name of what is today Leicester:
For the significance of this eight-pointed flower/star/cross for the Medieval Sai Project, see HERE
Next to the archaeological museum, there was also a museum dedicated to Guru Nanak
, the founder of Shikhism, about which we will also be talking about in the colloquium Alexandros is responsible for at the University of Bergen.
The importance of the Asiatic communities in Leicester, though, do not stop at the South-Asian expatriates, but have developed through the leading role of the University of Leicester in various faculties for which there is interest among the wealthier families in China, Japan, and Korea. With the academic year not yet fully started, in the areas around the University, the ethnic composition in the roads is strikingly Asiatic, due to the language courses that take place this time of the year for the freshmen from abroad!
It was at the University of Leicester that Ilias’ and Alexandros’ itineraries came to a close both days that we were in Leicester, where we were so happily rejoined with our mama and shared our meals or concluded our day. So, we will conclude today’s entry with a photo of Bennet building from the University of Leicester…
…where the conference organized by Ruth Humphreys and David Edwards took place, thus “giving the floor” to Henriette so as to present to us her own report from the academic venue she had the chance to attend…