Dr. Joyce Tyldesley is Senior Lecturer on Manchester University’s Certificate Course in Egyptology, and Honorary Research Associate here at The Manchester Museum. Joyce is the well-known author of many accessible books on Egyptological topics, and her latest – Tutankhamen’s Curse: The Developing History of an Egyptian King – is published on the 9th of February. The book tells the story not just of the Boy King, but – arguably of more interest – addresses the reasons why we are fascinated by him.
I recently met with Joyce, who came to the Museum to examine one of our objects for her next book. Her interest lay not a genuine artefact, however, but in a replica: our reproduction of the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti. This iconic image was discovered in 1912, and thus joins our Egypt galleries in celebrating a centenary this year. It was found by a German mission working at Tell el-Amarna, the short-lived royal residence city of Nefertiti’s husband Akhenaten (c. 1352-1336 BC), and is now housed in Berlin.
Joyce is currently writing an account of the modern obsession with the bust, and its central place in our impression of ancient beauty. As it is impossible to handle the original bust, Joyce asked if she could examine the Manchester copy as it is one of a number of accurate replicas made in Germany and now in several museums.
The Manchester bust – although not genuine, and never claimed to be – has always been popular with visitors. The new Ancient Worlds galleries will reflect the popularity of Nefertiti and her time by including both a rich selection of objects discovered at Amarna and several Amarna-style artworks: some educational copies and some made with the intent to deceive.
The modern reception of Tutankhamen and Nefertiti offer a fascinating insight into the continuing allure of Ancient Egypt. The Museum is delighted that Dr. Tyldesley has used some of our objects in her research, and I eagerly anticipate the publication of both books.