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Mummy Cartonnage: An Introduction

Campbell@Manchester:

Some interesting reflections on cartonnage from my colleague Roberta Mazza, Research Fellow at the Rylands Library and Honorary Academic Curator for Graeco-Roman Egypt here at the Museum

Originally posted on Faces&Voices:

Mummy mask of the Ptolemaic period, probably from Hawara

Mummy mask of the Ptolemaic period, probably from Hawara, Manchester Museum 2781.a

As all of you should know by now, I am remarkably pedantic. Therefore when I don’t know much about a topic, I go back to books and sometimes the Internet. Being mostly interested in Byzantine papyri, I had to refresh my knowledge of papyri from mummy cartonnage and related matters, since they have become such a hot topic after the publication of the new Sappho fragments (P. Sapph. Obbink and P.GC.105), and the YouTube adventures of the two Palmolive Indiana Jones retrieving New Testament papyri through mummy masks washing-up. So I thought to share what I have learnt so far.

In lesson one of any course in papyrology or related subject, you would be taught that there are two main sources from where you can legally or illegally retrieve papyri: excavating the remains of ancient cities, cemeteries, deposits…

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The Inspiration of Shabtis – an Artist’s Perspective

shabts2A blog from artist Linda Livesey about how our mass display of shabtis inspired her work.

I am a mature student at Manchester School of Art, studying Creative Practice, a part time studio degree programme.  Ceramics is my speciality within Creative Practice, for my current project I have taken on an Egyptian theme. I feel I have joined the many people that must have looked at and photographed the display of Shabtis in the Exploring Objects Gallery and gone Ah! or Wow!. The colours, mass, all wonderful, I felt that I had to respond to it somehow. For me, the starting point for my project had to be the Shabtis. I was fascinated by the fact that the optimum number to be placed in a burial was 401.

Linda's shabti army

Linda’s shabti army

They were there as servants in the afterlife, to be called upon to do any work the deceased required. I thought about this, I don’t want servants in the afterlife, I could do with them now. (Not really, I don’t believe in slavery). So I decided to make my own Shabtis, only 101 though, as I seem to have 101 things to do at the moment, I could do with some help with cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.  etc. …… as I suppose many people could. I made my own plaster moulds, 15 different Shabti shapes, ready to press mould my collection using stoneware and crank clay also developing several glazes to try and interpret the colours seen in the museum. I feel my final collection works well, I am pleased with them and I am sure they will serve me well.

Thanks to Campbell Price for assisting me in my research for this project.

Our shabtis on display (photo: Paul Cliff)

Our shabtis on display (photo: Paul Cliff)

Read more about the ancient function of shabtis, as made clear in their inscriptions, and why they have been so collectable.

 

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Amelia B. Edwards – A Thousand Miles up the Nile

Campbell@Manchester:

A super blog on Amelia Edwards, a key figure in the history of Manchester’s Egyptology collection

Originally posted on Stories from the Museum Floor:

I have always loved books from the way they feel to how easily they can transport you to another world. This interest naturally led me to one of my favourite objects in the Museum collection, A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877) by Amelia B. Edwards.

Image 1

I began working at the Museum in 2003, and during the early stages of this time the book was laid open in the Egyptian Gallery. I always wondered what the other pages might contain, which only added to the appeal of the book. So, I set about dispelling the air of mystery that surrounds this handsome looking woman.

Amelia Ann Blandford Edwards was born in London on the 7th June 1831. She was the daughter of a middle-aged couple; Alicia, an energetic and intellectual mother and Thomas, a retired army officer serving under Wellington in the Peninsular War, whom upon leaving the army became…

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Call for papers

Originally posted on Faces&Voices:

Mrs Rylands on a trip to Egypt (Courtesy of the John Rylands Library)

Mrs Enriqueta Rylands, founder of the John Rylands Library, on a trip to Egypt (ca. 1907-1908)
(© The John Rylands Library)

From Egypt to Manchester: unravelling the John Rylands papyrus collection.
This conference aims to bring together scholars who are working or have recently worked on the John Rylands papyri. We welcome papers from any period and perspective based on papyri from our collection in any of the languages and scripts attested from the Ptolemaic to the early Arab period.
Topics are open, and may include, but are not confined to: edition and commentary of texts, historical studies based on the Rylands papyri, connections with other collections, history of the collection, and archives and dossiers of individuals and institutions held or partially held in Manchester.
We are particularly interested in papers offering new insights on the papyri considered and at the same time dealing with methodological questions related to the…

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The Inspiration for Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars?

Campbell@Manchester:

Bram Stoker’s inspiration in Manchester? My colleague Bryan Sitch discusses the evidence.

Originally posted on Ancient Worlds:

Sheppard as highwayman

In earlier blog about a recent ACCES meeting at Manchester Museum I discussed the careers of two northern collectors of Egyptology with links to the North West. One was Aquila Dodgson. The other collector, Thomas Sheppard, was a larger-than-life character (seen holding up the local antiques shop in a cartoon above) who has been described as ‘one of the most successful museum curators of the first half of the 20th century’. Sheppard’s success in creating new museums in Hull was largely down to his collecting activities. He collected practically anything and everything during his 40 year career, including Egyptology. The reason for talking about him at a seminar about  Egyptology in the North West was an unexpected link to the Manchester mummy Ta-sheri-ankh brought to my attention by Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and the Sudan at Manchester Museum.

Mummy of Ta sheri ankh (courtesy of Campbell Price, Manchester Museum)

Mummy of Ta sheri ankh (courtesy of Campbell Price, Manchester Museum)

Campbell told me…

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A Colourful Goddess: Hathoric Pottery Decoration

Acc. no. 10984

Acc. no. 10984

One of the main tasks I’m working on as part of my traineeship here at Manchester Museum is the reorganisation of the Egyptian pottery store. The many boxes of pottery sherds (fragments) in particular continue to yield surprising finds: this week I came across two beautifully decorated sherds which immediately caught my eye.

During the New Kingdom, in particular the late 18th Dynasty, certain pottery forms including storage jars and bowls became highly decorative and featured moulded and painted motifs. Blue pigment, derived from cobalt, was also used to decorate pottery during this time and is distinctive to the New Kingdom and to particular sites including Amarna, Gurob and Malqata (Thebes).

Acc. no. 6204

Acc. no. 6204

Painted and moulded floral designs such as lotuses, cornflowers and poppies were used to decorate the vessels as well as animals including ducks, gazelles and ibexes. Hathor, goddess of fertility and beauty, was often shown with a human face and cow’s ears on blue-painted storage jars like these examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

MMA 12.180.31

MMA 12.180.31

Blue painted pottery was an item of high status since the cobalt, obtained from the Western Desert, was so difficult to procure and the level of craftsmanship involved in their creation made these objects particularly desirable during the New Kingdom. Blue-painted sherds with Hathoric motifs are still being found in Egypt today, such as this beautiful example found recently at the site of the palace of Amenhotep III at Malqata.

Hathor’s face was also moulded onto the surface of two sherds at Manchester Museum: a rim from a large polychrome carinated (angled) bowl (Acc. No. 6204) and another painted blue, red, white and black, which may originally have been part of a decorative handle (Acc. No. 10984). Unfortunately the provenance of these objects has since been lost but the decorative style and form of [6204] suggests that it dates to either the late 18th Dynasty or, perhaps more likely, the Ramesside Period.

The presence of blue pigment on [10984] suggests that it dates to the late 18th Dynasty and is likely originally from Amarna, Gurob or Malqata (Thebes). We can confidently compare this object with an example from Amarna from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (E.GA.4569.1943) which is also blue-painted and of a similar form, which may suggest that our example is also originally from Amarna.

Anna Garnett

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Ancient Worlds on Holiday – Egypt in Rhodes

Campbell@Manchester:

Aegyptiaca on Rhodes

Originally posted on Ancient Worlds:

Egyptian statue with Greek legend

Egyptian statue with Greek legend

I’ve recently been on holiday to Rhodes. Before I left, Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and the Sudan at Manchester Museum, asked if I’d take a photograph of an Egyptian statuette with a Greek inscription in the archaeology museum in Rhodes Old Town. When my wife, Christine, and I visited the Archaeological Museum we kept our eyes open for the exhibit and I’m pleased to report that we found it (see photo above).  The seated Egyptian statuette fragment is inscribed with letters from the Greek alphabet, which in translation read: ‘….thes dedicated me’. A similar piece in the museum’s epigraphical displays (see below) has the same inscription but this time giving the full name of the dedicatee: [S]myrthes. The museum label says it dates from between 550 and the late 7th century BC.  This statuette was dedicated in the sanctuary of Athena on the acropolis…

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Fragmentary Ancestors Figurines from Koma Land Exhibition

Campbell@Manchester:

Ghanaian ‘Fragmentary Ancestors’ exhibition opens next week

Originally posted on Ancient Worlds:

Head of horse or camel rider from the Fragmentary Ancestors exhibition

Head of horse or camel rider from the Fragmentary Ancestors exhibition

With little more than a week to go before we open our new temporary exhibition, Fragmentary Ancestors Figurines from Koma Land Ghana, on 25th October there is a real sense of expectation and anticipation building at Manchester Museum.

Work on this project began about a year ago when it was decided to put on an exhibition featuring the results of archaeological fieldwork in Koma Land in Northern Ghana involving the University of Manchester, the University of Ghana and the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB). In May, Sam Sportun, Senior Conservator at Manchester Museum, flew to Ghana to pack a selection of the figurines for exhibition in Manchester. Since that time Prof Tim Insoll and the Ghanaian partners wrote the text for the exhibition and the accompanying  booklet, and FDA Design Ltd designed the new displays.

Head of figurine from Koma Land

Head of figurine from Koma Land

This exhibition is the…

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Reconstructing a Soldier from Roman Egypt

Campbell@Manchester:

More on the lives behind our Roman Period mummy portraits…

Originally posted on Ancient Worlds:

Encaustic portrait of soldier from Roman Egypt in the Manchester Museum collection

Encaustic portrait of soldier from Roman Egypt in the Manchester Museum collection (accession no. 11306)

This is the encaustic portrait of a man who lived in Egypt when it was a province of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately we don’t know his name. It is one of a large number of encaustic or mummy protraits – the total lies in the hundreds Campbell tells me – from Greco-Roman Egypt.

It was the basis of a reconstruction illustration by the talented artist, Graham Sumner, who used to work for the Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit. Graham Sumner’s article ‘Painting a Reconstruction of the Deir el-Medineh Portrait’ can be found in Marie Louise Nosch (ed.) Wearing the Cloak Dressing the Soldier in Roman Times (Oxbow Books, 2012), pp. 117-127.

Graham Sumner's reconstruction of the Roman soldier from Egypt whose encaustic portrait is in the Manchester Museum collection

Graham Sumner’s reconstruction of the Roman soldier from Egypt whose encaustic portrait is in the Manchester Museum collection

This is  how Graham Sumner has portrayed the anonymous man…

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The mystery of the spinning statuette (II)

Several months ago, we noticed that one of our Middle Kingdom statuettes was spinning around imperceptibly slowly in its new case in our Egyptian Worlds gallery. We set up a time lapse camera to take one image every minute for a week. This is the result.

The cause may be subtle vibrations from footfall or traffic outside, but the statuette has been on a glass shelf in about the same place in the gallery for decades and has never moved before – and none of the other objects in the case move in any way. A mystery? See for yourself.

Video by Luke Lovelock, Media Technician, Manchester Museum.

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