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Ancient Egyptian or Greek? Fit Bodies debate

Lubomira Gadjourov27 June 2012

Who had the better body, the ancient Egyptians or the ancient Greeks? What do we even mean by “fit” exactly?  Is what we understand fit to be today the same as what it was in ancient times?

These are some of the questions that were brought up in the light-hearted discussion between Debbie Challis (UCL Petrie Museum) and Chris Naunton (Egypt Exploration Society) at the Petrie Museum on Tuesday 19 June. The talk accompanies the exhibition in the UCL Cloisters, entitled Fit Bodies: Statues, Athletes and Power.

Arguing his case first, for the ancient Egyptians, Chris Naunton brought up the very valid point, that even today the meanings of the word “fit” are numerous. One suggested meaning is, “To be the proper size and shape” – what is meant by “proper”, however, is fairly ambiguous.

Among the proposed definitions are: “To be suitable for a certain purpose”, as well as “To be physically sound, athletic, sporting” and lastly, the more colloquial, “To be sexually attractive”.

We learned that the human body as it is portrayed in ancient Egyptian art and sculptures differs with regard to the person being illustrated.

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