Leslie Warden smiles for a portrait photo
By Roanoke College News

Warden delivers presentation at international workshop on ancient Egypt

Leslie Anne Warden, Roanoke College’s Joanne Leonhardt Casullo Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology, collaborated with History and Archaeology Professor Claire Malleson of American University of Beirut (Lebanon) to present a talk entitled, “Linking grain provisioning and bread and beer production in early pharaonic Egypt,” at an international workshop hosted by the Brussels Institute for Advanced Studies in Belgium.

Warden, an Egyptology expert who leads Roanoke’s archaeology lab, was among a dozen speakers scattered across three continents invited to present during the Feb. 7 workshop, which she took part in virtually.

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The focus of the event was an exploration of the food and culture of Egypt across eras. Warden’s work with Malleson delved into the production of the grain-based staples of bread and beer. Both were key parts of ancient Egyptian life, particularly ca. 2500-1600 BC.

Beer, low in alcohol content, was widely consumed at that time and bread was a basic part of the society’s caloric intake. Both were often used as a wage payment, as pharaonic Egyptians did not use money. Thus, bread and beer touched all aspects of ancient life, from farming to eating to waste management.

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In their joint presentation, Warden explored the topic through the archaeological ceramic record uncovered by scientists, while Malleson looked at it through the lens of ancient plant remains. Together, their interdisciplinary work showcased how ancient Egyptians used bread and beer differently across time and regions, highlighting the dynamic nature of ancient Egyptian culture.