A short piece I wrote for the Vancouver SSEA
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Acc. no 3570 © Paul Cliff
Wednesday 1 May, 1.15-2pm.
Collections Study Centre, Manchester Museum
Join our series of guest speakers for lunchtime conversations discussing key objects from the collection. This month’s conversation will be:
The Kneeling Statue of the Admiral Hor: Ships and Sculpture in Sixth Century BC Egypt.
Often overlooked because of its damaged state, the kneeling statue of Hor [Acc. no. 3750] represents an important military man of the Egyptian Twenty-Sixth Dynasty (c. 595-589 BC). Hor was Admiral of Egypt’s royal Mediterranean fleet at a time of increasingly strained international relations. Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and the Sudan at the Museum, will discuss Hor’s role and the meanings of his temple statue.
FREE. Book on 0161 275 2648 or email@example.com
Posted in Egypt events at the Manchester Museum | Tagged 26th Dynasty, Collections Bites, Egyptology, Hor, Sixth Century BC, statue, Study Centre | 1 Comment »
Our new British Museum Future Curator, Anna Garnett, describes her experiences so far at the Museum.
Since this is my first blog post since arriving at Manchester Museum at the beginning of March I thought I’d tell you a little bit about what I’m actually doing here…
For the last six months I have been working as a trainee curator in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum, as part of the HLF-funded Future Curators programme. During this time I worked with Derek Welsby, Assistant Keeper and Curator of Sudanese Archaeology, focussing on the documentation and presentation of the Sudanese collection and taking part in many varied activities including school sessions, gallery talks, exhibitions and community events. There was also the occasional, more unusual task, such as helping with the design of the Egyptian-themed Christmas decorations for the Great Court, something which you certainly don’t get to do everyday!
Anna with hieroglyph-learners
This prepared me well for the second part of the programme: spending 12 months training at a UK Partner museum. Manchester Museum was chosen as the host museum for an Egyptology trainee and I am very lucky to have the opportunity to work with such an important and fascinating Egyptology collection. So far I’ve assisted with the documentation and exhibition of the Egyptian objects as well as a wide variety of other tasks including helping with Egyptology-themed events for both adults and children – one of the most memorable being the ‘Museum Meets’ Hieroglyphs Study Day in March, when I helped the group translate hieroglyphic inscriptions on objects in the Ancient Worlds gallery for themselves. I even have the opportunity to help out on the Museum allotment – today we are hopefully planting potatoes!
It is a great privilege to be a ‘Future Curator’ since there are very few other opportunities to be able to work so closely with and learn from such fantastic people and collections, and I look forward to the challenges which I’m sure the next year will bring during my traineeship.
More from Anna soon!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged British Museum, Future Curators, traineeship | 2 Comments »
Sphinx of Taharqa. BM EA 1770.
The next Manchester Ancient Egypt Society lecture will be given by Dr. Chris Naunton, Director of the EES
Regime Change and the Administration of Thebes During the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty.
Monday 8th April, 7:30pm
Days Inn, Sackville Street, Manchester, M1 3AL
The Piye Stela suggests that the Nubian king of that name invaded Egypt and defeated a series of local, independent to re-establish central authority after a brief period when the country had become divided. In fact however there are good reasons to think that the country had been divided for some time and that the Kushites already had control of quite a bit of it, but never really had total control of the whole of the Two Lands. The study of the administration immediately beneath the level of King, and the titles held by important individuals in particular, can tell us a great deal about the processes involved and the reality behind the propaganda.
Dr Chris Naunton is Director of the Egypt Exploration Society. He studied Egyptology at the universities of Birmingham and Swansea and wrote his PhD thesis on regime change in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. He has excavated in the field at Abydos and in el-Asasif, Western Thebes but his research focuses now on the EES archives and the history of Egyptology. He is the presenter of the 2012 BBC film Flinders Petrie: ‘The Man Who Discovered Egypt’.
Posted in Egypt events | Tagged 25th Dynasty, Chris Naunton, MAES, Thebes | 1 Comment »
Acc. no. 13906. © Glenn Janes
Shabti figures are very popular, especially when they depict royal personages. Some of the most common royal shabtis you are likely to encounter are those of King Seti I (c. 1294-79 BC). Estimates vary, but it is probable that Seti had over 1000 shabtis – the largest number of any New Kingdom king. Materials for the shabtis varied, and included faience, alabaster and steatite – but the most common material was wood.
After his 1817 discovery of the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings (KV 17), the strongman explorer Giovanni Belzoni gave an account of its contents. He described “scattered in various places, an immense quantity of small wooden figures of mummies six or eight inches long, and covered with asphaltum to preserve them.” Modern analysis has identified the species of wood as juniper. It is said that many of these resin-coated wooden shabtis – as a convenient, combustible material – were set alight and used as torches by visitors to the tomb! Fortunately, many survived and Egyptian collections across the world now frequently boast one or two examples.
Seti’s assemblage must originally have represented the most elaborate provision of royal shabtis, varying considerably in quality of craftsmanship. But why would a pharaoh need actually need shabtis? As a god king, among other gods in the afterlife, it seems unlikely that the deceased pharaoh would be obliged to actually do any work in the Fields of Reeds.
Fine faience shabti of Seti I now in the British Museum. BM EA 22818.
Like many of the objects placed in the royal tomb, they represented an insurance policy for any eventuality. Shabtis had been a standard part of private burial equipment since the Middle Kingdom, and the Egyptians were perhaps inclined to retain the custom rather than do away with it – just in case the king happened to need extra help in the afterlife. By their sheer number, Seti’s army of shabtis seems to echo the large numbers of people the king could command in life. By the New Kingdom, shabtis were conceptualised as servants rather than substitutes for the deceased – so perhaps it was fitting for the pharaoh to have labour at his disposal.
I have a particular fondness for the wooden shabtis of Seti I for another reason. When I was still at school, and already keen to pursue a career in Egyptology and museums, I volunteered at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. Whilst there, I was privileged to be able to help the curator update catalogue records – focussing on an extensive collection of shabtis. Whilst we were going through the collection, I noticed that one dark wooden example bore a cartouche – though a royal name was not noted on the catalogue card. Upon closer inspection the hieroglyphic elements proved to be ‘Men-maat-Re’ – the Prenomen, or Throne name of Seti I. After consulting a reference book I was very excited to discover one of Seti I’s shabtis in Glasgow… only to discover that there were hundreds all over the world!
I remember wondering why the king took so many shabtis to the grave. Now, I would say without hesitation that the general Pharaonic funerary belief applies: better safe than sorry!
This post is based on part of a chapter that will appear in the Oxford Handbook to the Valley of the Kings, edited by Kent Weeks and Richard Wilkinson.
Posted in Object biography | Tagged Burrell Collection, funerary equipment, Giovanni Belzoni, Seti I, shabti, shabtis, Valley of the Kings | 10 Comments »
Acc. no. 123
The Manchester Museum holds two very important objects that provide evidence for the use of masks in ancient Egypt. The first is one of the very few surviving masks that appears to have been worn by the living, rather than placed on a mummy. The Manchester example (Acc. no. 123) is made of layers of linen and plaster, and has been painted black – with signs of paint being applied over broken patches of plaster, implying ancient repair. There are holes for the eyes and nostrils, indicating practical considerations for the wearer. A green triangle has been painted between the brows, and the eyes, cheeks and lips have been picked out with red paint. Despite the common assertion that the Manchester mask represents the dwarf-god Bes, this does not seem obvious from inspection of the mask itself.
The mask was found by archaeologist W.M. Flinders Petrie during his 1888-9 excavations at the pyramid-builders’ town of Kahun. It was discovered in a room of one of the houses there. In the next room, in a hole in the floor, was found a group of objects including a pair of ivory clappers and a wooden figurine of a woman with a lionine face(mask). Although the latter was stolen from the excavation, it is comparable with another example from the Ramesseum tomb group – also in Manchester. These objects have been interpreted as the tools of a ritual performer, whose use was connected with music and magic. The exact context of such use is uncertain.
Acc. no. 5886
The other object is a flake of limestone (known as an ostracon), from western Thebes, probably of New Kingdom date and donated by Sir Alan Gardiner. It bears a unique ink sketch: a scene of a funeral. The sketch shows a tomb shaft – of the type known from Deir el-Medina – with a group of female mourners gathered around it. Within the shaft a man is seen descending, and within the chambers of the tomb itself the burial party carry a coffin into place. A striking detail is that one of the party has a jackal head. Given the informal medium, the sketch is likely to show the burial as it happened, albeit in schematic fashion. The implication is that one of the party is wearing a jackal-headed mask. A famous example in Hildesheim may represent such a mask, used for the impersonation of Anubis, the god of mummification.
Ancient Egyptian ritual centred on the knowledge and action of a ritual practitioner, not on abstract “beliefs”. Masking enabled ritualists to act as gods, bringing divine knowledge and power to confront a given problem or participate in ceremonial acts. Religious texts contain many assertions that the speaker is a specific deity. Such a declaration of authority enabled mortals – both men and women – to impersonate gods, and make their ritual actions more effective. The resulting positive psychological effects are well-attested.
Masks enabled ancient Egyptians to become divine, both during life and after death. Manchester is fortunate to have these two outstanding objects, which shed light on an otherwise sparsely-documented practice.
Posted in Object biography | Tagged Alan Gardiner, Deir el-Medina, Flinders Petrie, Kahun, mask, masking, Middle Kingdom, mummy mask, New Kingdom, ostracon, ostracon of a burial, ritual | 2 Comments »
#AncientWorlds -related #ComicRelief fun @McrMuseum!
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »