Dr. Jacquelyn Williamson comes to Mason from Harvard, where she served for two years as a Curatorial Research Associate at the Harvard Semitic Museum. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence and her MA and PhD from Johns Hopkins. Dr. Williamson’s addition inaugurates a most welcome revival of the department’s traditional strength in classical Mediterranean art history and archaeology. In an exciting turn for Mason, she represents an expansion of that tradition into ancient Egypt. Though she is busy settling in and getting to know new students and colleagues, she took the time to answer a few interview questions for us.
Welcome to Mason! For those who don’t know you, could you say a little bit about your scholarship?
JW: Thank you very much, I am very glad to be here. I specialize, broadly speaking, in two areas: (1) gender and its role in religious power hierarchies in the ancient Mediterranean, and (2) Ancient Egypt. My current research concerns Queen Nefertiti and her lost sun temple. I discovered her lost temple after translating some inscriptions, and I have been working on the site ever since. My first book on the temple is coming out soon!
We’re so pleased to have you join us. What are you looking forward to at Mason?
JW: I am looking forward to getting to know my colleagues and future students, and also looking forward to continuing my research. I am hoping to be able to get enough outside funding to expand my work in Egypt so that advanced students can accompany me into the field.
What can students expect from your courses?
JW: I hope to be able to offer a broad range of classes, from specific subjects to big picture classes that survey Mediterranean interconnections. I also hope to incorporate some of the unique benefits of George Mason itself. For example I am reworking my class on Greek Art to incorporate the 3-D printing lab in the Johnson Center. Some important advances have been made in archaeology using laser and photographic scanning, the full impact of which can be realized through 3-D printing. George Mason's relatively new 3-D printing lab in the Johnson Center is an excellent resource! I would like to have students research objects in local museums, select an object, create a 3-D armature of the object, research it, and then print it out.
Would you be willing to share a wacky experience from the field with us?
JW: Once we had a field laboratory set up near the path of a local goat herder, who drove his goats through once or twice a week. One day a goat decided that one of our clip boards looked tasty, so it grabbed it and ran off with it. I will never forget watching my colleague run after the clipboard stealing goat, white lab coat flying, clutching a scalpel in one hand and a bottle of acid in the other, shouting "the goat has my cleaning report for block 25!" at the top of her lungs.
Your Egyptian focus brings an exciting new dimension to the department’s offerings. What can you tell us about working in Egypt?
JW: Without the generous permission of the Egyptian government and the expertise of my Egyptian colleagues my work would not be possible! The warm ties, professional and personal, that I have formed over the years always make me want to go back as soon as I have left.
August 31, 2016