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The Institute of Maritime Research and Discovery
Research Associate

Noreen Doyle

Noreen Doyle

Thesis (Texas A&M- Pdf)
Vitae (Pdf)

Current IMRD Project(s): Visiting nautical specialist to the expedition at Mersa Gawasis/Wadi Gawasis on the Red Sea, Egypt. Conducted by the Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples (Italy) and Boston University, Boston (USA), under the direction of Prof. Rodolfo Fattovich and Prof. Kathryn A. Bard. Dr. Claire Calcagno and Dr. Chiara Zazzaro are in charge of ship-related elements from the sites.

Master of Arts: Texas A&M University, Anthropology (Nautical Archaeology Program)
Thesis Title: Iconography and the Interpretation of Ancient Egyptian Watercraft
Chair: Dr. George F. Bass
Conferred: May 1998

Master of Arts: University of Liverpool, Egyptology (with distinction)
Dissertation Title:
Old Kingdom Sailing Rigs and Later Bipod Masts: a reevaluation from the iconographic evidence
Supervisor: Dr. Ian Shaw
Conferred: 2003

Texas A& M - Thesis Abstract: "Pharaonic Egyptian civilization was Nilocentric and dependent upon watercraft. As a result, a nautically rich iconography legacy is available to enhance the evidence provided by the archaeological remains of actual boats. Egyptian literature abounds in nautical metaphors and presents a vast reservoir, imperfectly understood, of Egyptian nautical terms. Artists, generally highly skilled professionals, were familiar with watercraft in their daily lives. However, the dictates of their artistic conventions make modern interpretation of both two- and three-dimensional representations of boats and crews difficult, as have artistic errors caused by constraints of the media, techniques or carelessness. Past interpretive errors have included mistaking rower's seats for tholes, stepped gangplanks for "ladders", and loaves of bread for anchors.

The Egyptian artist depicted ideals and attempted to portray objects and figures in such a way as to reflect the conceptual, rather than perceptual, reality of his world. Key details such as lanyards and crosspieces are often omitted from representations. A single piece of evidence may remain our only evidence for a type of ship or activity; subjects and features known from contemporary literature or the archaeological record, including passenger ferries, harbor works, and the participation of women, do not appear or are scanty in the iconography. Artists picked and chose from the reality around them to suit their own needs, not ours, and, thus, present an incomplete picture of the ancient reality. Even the extant, published iconography is incomplete; reliefs have lost their original painted surfaces and many scenes are in fragments. The publications themselves, although invaluable, present their own difficulties to researchers, who must be prepared to alter their constructions and hypotheses as new sources and the opportunity for better examination of the record become available."

Univ. of Liverpool - Dissertation Abstract: "Several other authors have approached the the subject of the ancient Egyptian rig in detail. The seminal studies were those of J. Assmann and Ch. Boreux. Up until the 1960s Egyptian sails were a popular topic among Egyptologists and naval architects alike, but the subject seemed to crystalize with the nearly simultaneous publications of Egyptologist J. Vandier and artist and marine historian B. Landström, the latter of whom has had particular influence. Since then only the introduction of the brailed sail in the New Kingdom has been given detailed reconsideration. The publication, or republication, of key pieces of evidence, most notably the Old Kingdom blocks re-used in the pyramid of Amenemhat I at Lisht, a number of Old Kingdom tombs and museum collections, and discrepancies among past interpretations signal a need for a complete reexamination of the evidence.
This paper will review what exists, and what can be inferred from the existing evidence, regarding the construction and plan of the rig on ancient Egyptian watercraft during the Old Kingdom."

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