Sometimes in life you have to look a little deeper…in Egyptology you always have to look deeper. You cannot take an artefact at face value, you must first observe, come to a conclusion in your head and then throw that conclusion away. The way our brains work when examining artefacts is to draw upon our own modern day objects and make inferences based upon that. (Which isn’t always bad and is how some great discoveries are made). However, sometimes, going with your gut in Egyptology, just doesn’t work. It is also good to get second, and third, and fourth and fifth opinions, without telling them your opinion so as not to cloud their judgement.
Aside from that, you must not just look at an artefact we know the use for, say a shabti for instance and say “yes, that’s a shabti, thousands of them about, lets move one.” It is important to understand the value it has to its own context and surrounding matrix, be it a tomb or temple. The very material it is made from can suggest at its owner’s wealth, as well as sometime revealing interesting trade links, i.e resin and wood, and also manufacturing processes be it hand made or moulded in a workshop. Inscriptions can enlighten us about traditions and I have even seen the role of the owner carved on there such as “Chantress of Amun”. The object is very important to understanding society as a whole, but it is also important to look at it from a personal level, what it meant for the owner etc.
All too often in archaeology in general I hear that something must have had ‘religious significance’, purely because it can not be explained. This is also another reason not to give up trying to solve the complexities of certain artefacts, ‘religious significance’ is just not good enough sometimes.
So basically, what I am trying to say is, never take anything at face value, constantly question why something was made, what it is made from, where it was found and so forth.
Something to think about I hope.
All the best,