This weekend I had the pleasure of showing two groups around the Museum’s Egyptology stores. The first was a group of students who had assembled in Manchester – in some cases coming from abroad, many never having met in person before – to receive their Certificate in Egyptology from the University. The Certificate course grew from a series of classes given by my predecessor Professor Rosalie David, and has increased in popularity over the years. The course is now directed by Dr. Joyce Tyldesley who, along with Dr. Glenn Godenho of Liverpool University, has pioneered a new Diploma in Egyptology. Needless to say, those students graduating with their certificates in such an intensive distance learning course knew their stuff, and were full of probing questions. I look forward to contributing Museum objects to future teaching on both the Certificate and Diploma courses, and to sharing more material from the stores.
It is always a special priviledge to accompany interested people to see the stores for the first time, so to host two very well-informed groups in two days was fantastic. The second group was smaller but just as enthusiastic. Accompanied by Jan Picton and Ivor Pridden, the Friends of the Petrie Museum know their own collection – housed in University College London – very well. It was especially pleasing to discuss some parallels between our two collections – especially given the importance of Petrie’s excavations to Manchester. Highlights included examination and discussion of a shabti of Horudja, a small, late Middle Kingdom royal head (possibly, it was pointed out, from a sphinx), and a puzzling wooden model of a man and a woman facing each other – perhaps a modern composition of ancient pieces for the antiquities market.
Although both groups expressed an interest in remaining in the stores all day, we managed to tear ourselves away and continue discussions afterwards. Several issues raised have got me thinking about some objects we looked at in a new way – a sure sign of a productive visit. It was nice to put a face to the name of fellow bloggers Jane Akshar and Andrea Byrnes, and to hear the opinions of both groups on plans for our new galleries. I hope to see all our recent visitors again in the not too distant future.