Monthly Archives: December 2011

Getting to know Manchester

One of the most interesting aspects of my new job is understanding the relationship between the Museum’s collections and local people, and why artefacts from Egypt and Sudan have been so popular in Manchester. A newly published book by Hilary Forrest, a member of Manchester Ancient Egypt Society, provides a useful summary of the history of Egyptological interest in the Greater Manchester area, and an introduction to the many Egypt enthusiasts the region has produced and been closely associated with.

As part of the redevelopment of our Ancient Worlds galleries, the Museum has been consulting local community groups. A week into the job, I accompanied our Curator for Community Exhibitions on a visit to a group of older people called ‘Forever Young’, who meet regularly at Fallowfield Library. This was a superb opportunity to get a local perspective on our plans and explore expectations for the galleries. Interest focused on the precise age of the objects, their materials, and how they could be tied into Egyptian history. A particular fondness emerged for our Graeco-Roman mummy portrait collection, which I’m sure will be satisfied by our new displays.

Members of Forever Young examining a Predynastic pot

Work on the Ancient Worlds galleries themselves continues apace, and I have been busy selecting object images for digital resources from the thousands taken by photographer Paul Cliffe. However, one of our most exciting recent discoveries concerned some very old photos. Lynsey Halliday, a student volunteer at the Museum about to begin a Masters in Museum Studies at Leicester, happened across a box containing dozens of old photographs of Egypt. They were mainly taken by the Zangaki brothers, who are known to have been active in Egypt between 1870 and 1890. Others are by contemporaries Antonio Beato and P. Peridis. A range of scenes are recorded, including both pharaonic remains and intimate studies of contemporary people. Monuments are often depicted still half-buried – the very situation encountered by important figures in the formation of the Manchester Egyptology collection – such as W. M. F. Petrie, Amelia Edwards, and Jesse Haworth – when they themselves first visited Egypt.Image

Lynsey has repackaged and scanned each of the images, and thanks to her careful work digital versions are now available to view in a Flickr gallery. Perhaps you own or have seen similar images? We’d be very keen to find out!

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Hello, my name is Campbell Price and I am the new Curator of Egypt and the Sudan. I took over in November from Karen Exell, who has just taken up a teaching post with UCL in Qatar. Previously I was the Curatorial Assistant for the Garstang Museum of Archaeology at the University of Liverpool, where I completed my PhD in Egyptology at the beginning of 2011. Between May 2010 and May 2011, I also worked as Project Assistant for the Association of Curators of Collections from Egypt and Sudan (ACCES), a role line-managed by Karen at Manchester.

My undergraduate and masters studies were in Egyptology at Liverpool, where I developed a focus on material culture. I undertook an AHRC-funded PhD on the function of non-royal statues during the Egyptian Late Period (c. 750-30BC), examining a partially unpublished corpus from the Karnak Cachette. My research interests focus on how the ancient Egyptians interacted with objects such as statues, and how modern experiences – especially in museums – affect our perceptions. Egyptian culture during the First Millennium BC is of particular interest to me, and I worked with Karen on the interpretation of material from this period for the new Ancient Worlds galleries.

I am also the Director of the Glasgow Museums’ Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project, the only mission active in Egypt from my native Scotland. The team uses a range of geophysical techniques to map subsurface features at Saqqara, one of Egypt’s most significant religious sites throughout the Pharaonic period. This work has revealed many previously unknown structures, and improves our understanding of the sacred landscapes created at Saqqara.

Since starting at the end of November I’ve hit the ground running at the Museum, where work on the Ancient Worlds redisplay is well underway. I’m very excited by the prospect of redisplaying such a rich collection and am taking every opportunity to get to know the objects, their history and ways of bringing them to wider audiences. More posts about everything Egypt (and Sudan) will appear here soon.


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