Monthly Archives: November 2012

‘Museum Meets’ Egyptology Events: Hieroglyphs and Statues

In the New Year I will be running two workshops for the Museum’s adult ‘Museum Meets’ programme, looking at aspects of the Egyptology collection:

Saturday 19 January, 10am-4pm
Statues were central to ancient Egyptian religion, but how did the Egyptians use and understand them? This one day course will examine stylistic developments in sculptures of non-royal people, deities and kings, and address the meanings behind them through textual sources. Using the collections of Manchester Museum, Dr Campbell Price will explore the existence of portraiture, the role of sculptors and the rituals designed to bring statues to life.


Saturday 9 March, 10am-4pm
Ever looked into a museum case and wanted to know what the hieroglyphs mean? Join Egyptology curator Campbell Price to take the basic steps to understanding the ancient Egyptian writing system, and have a go at translating a series of texts on objects on display and in storage at the Manchester Museum.
Book online at , £15, adults

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Frogs in Ancient Egypt

An Old Kingdom carnelian frog amulet from Qau el-Kabir. Acc. no. 7122.

We recently had a visit from Joy Kremler, a Curatorial Assistant at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Joy was visiting Manchester to discuss the process of redisplaying archaeological and Egyptological collections in advance of plans for a refurbishment at her own institution. Joy also has a particular interest in frogs, especially in the early apperance of frogs in Egyptian iconography and their use as amulets. It was a great opportunity, therefore, for Joy to meet my colleague Andrew Gray, our Curator of Herpetology, and see some of the many living frogs we have in our Vivarium at the Museum.

Middle Kingdom ivory wand or birthing tusk from the ‘Ramesseum Tomb’. Acc. no. 1801.

Joy was keen to point out although the frog in ancient Egypt is often associated with the goddess Hekat, the appearance of frogs in iconography is much earlier than the firm association with this deity. In fact, the frog is one of the earliest animals to be attested as amulets in the Predynastic Period. The Egyptians most commonly referred to frogs by the onomatopoeic term ‘kerer‘. Frog spawn had a resonance with Egyptian ideas about regeneration, and the hieroglyph of a tadpole stood for the number 100,000. Images of

Late Period copper alloy votive model offering table with a frog ‘spout’, showing a man pouring a libation. Acc. no. 11039.

frogs appear alongside much more fearsome animals on Middle Kingdom ivory wands or birthing tusks, several examples of which we hold at the Manchester Museum. Frogs also decorate objects as spouts, implying a close connection with the Nile flood and the flowing of water. Frogs continued to feature throughtout Pharaonic iconography and even appears as a symbol of Christian resurrection in the Coptic period, when terracotta lamps often bear its image.

Joy’s visit was an excellent chance to view items in the collection which have often been overlooked, and to discuss frogs and their associations in ancient Egypt in comparison with modern knowledge of their behaviour.

You can find out more about frogs at the Manchester Museum here, on Andrew Gray’s popular Frog Blog.


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Event: ‘Daughters of Isis’ study day – Saturday February 16th 2013

Daughters of Isis: Women in Ancient Egypt

Saturday 16th February 2013

Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT.

A series of presentations examining the lives, roles, health and deaths of ancient Egyptian women. Presented by Egyptology Online in association with the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology.






9.15 REGISTRATION: tea/coffee
9.45 Welcome and Introduction
10.00 Vanishing Queens: Three Mummy Mysteries
Dr Joyce Tyldesley
10.45 Medical Care for Women in Pharaonic Egypt
Roger Forshaw
11.15 BREAK
11.45 Women and Literacy
Dr Glenn Godenho
12.30 A Little of What you Fancy
Pauline Norris
1.00 LUNCH (please make own arrangements)
2.00 The 2013 Bob Partridge Memorial Lecture
Women’s Religious Roles during the Late Period: The lives and afterlives of Asru and Tasheriankh
Dr Campbell Price
3.00 BREAK
3.30 The Mystery of a Wooden Cane found in an OK Female Burial: an Accessory Staff or a Walking Aid?
Iwona Kozieradzka-Ogunmakin
4.00 What Skeletal Evidence can tell us about Women in Ancient Egypt
Emily Marlow
4.30 Conclusion

Further details and booking information here.

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100 years of Egypt on display at Manchester: Ancient Worlds are open!

On 30th October 1912 a group of dignitaries assembled for the opening of a new building in the Manchester Museum, designed to house the important Egyptology collections. Exactly one hundred years later, we have now opened our new ‘Ancient Worlds’ galleries – and they are already proving very popular.

The new galleries consist of three main parts. The first gallery (previously the rather claustrophobic ‘Egyptian Daily Life’) introduces archaeological methods and explains how we know about the past, through a number of guides related to the field. This section, for example, explains Manchester’s unique contribution to facial reconstruction of ancient peoples, and Flinders Petrie’s ‘sequence dating’ based on pottery typology. Further digital content – including text, images, audio commentary, and 360 degree photography – can be downloaded using codes that appear on object labels. A visitor services assistant can unlock this information for those without a smart phone. This information can also be viewed online, at

The second space – formerly the Egyptian Afterlife gallery – is now Egyptian Worlds. Objects are arranged chronologically, with a timeline running around the top of the wall cases – making clear to visitors when, relative to main ‘periods’ of Egyptian history, material is situated. This timeline is illustrated with pots, to show changes in ceramic styles over time. Within this chronological framework individual themes are developed, such as the importance of writing in the Old Kingdom and Manchester’s unique evidence for magical practice in the Middle Kingdom. A smaller adjoining space now houses our rich collection of painted mummy portraits from Roman Egypt, including two of the rare examples of mummies with portraits still in place.

Finally, in our third gallery ‘Exploring Objects’ – what previously housed Mediterranean Archaeology – we present dense displays of several categories of artefacts found in abundance in museum collections, such as Roman glass, pottery lamps, or Egyptian stone vessels. One section that has already proved popular is our case packed with shabti figures, arranged roughly in chronological order to show changes in colour with time. The reason behind creating these densely-filled cases was simple: museum visitors expressed an interest in seeing more material on display. More objects than ever before are now on view in all three galleries, many for the first time in over 50 years. With around a thousand whole and fragmentary shabtis in storage, we wanted to show many more than the dozen or so examples that had been on display in the old galleries. The result is an aesthetically striking display – as evidenced by the popularity of this case with photographers!

In the year since I arrived at the Museum, ‘Ancient Worlds’ has dominated almost every aspect of life. It has been a wonderful opportunity to bring objects from one of Britain’s (and, indeed, Europe’s) great collections from Egypt and Sudan to a new audience. Yet, it has also been very satisfying to hear people express surprise as seeing an object from the old galleries in a new context – in this way many familiar pieces are getting a second look.

This photo from the 1912 opening shows the gallery’s major benefactor Jesse Haworth (standing in the picture), archaeologist William Flinders Petrie (seated third from right), the museum’s first curator William Boyd Dawkins (first on right), and anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith.

A project of this size obviously runs into its fair share of challenges. Yet even when things didn’t go quite according to plan, solutions were found – and the results, we hope, speak for themselves. It was a particular pleasure to work so closely with a team of such tireless, talented, and enthusiastic people at the Museum. We all hope that our new galleries bring Ancient Worlds to life in new and exciting ways for our visitors.

You can see all of Paul Cliff’s photos from the opening at the Museum’s Flickr page.

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Ancient Worlds After Hours event – Thursday 15th November

Photo by Paul Cliff

The Manchester Museum, Thursday 15th November, 6:30-9:30pm

With a contemporary twist on the ancient world, explore the new Ancient Worlds galleries at night and meet the people who created them. Mummify an orange, go on mini tours with Bryan Sitch, Curator of Archaeology and Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan and take part in a conservation masterclass.

You can also take part in Clay OK’s Ancient Fragments workshop – where you can sketch a fragment of your favourite textures and shapes from the displays and be guided in translating the pattern into a plastic relief stamp, which you can impress into a large clay tablet – contributing to a contemporary artefact of the event!

We’ll also be joined by, Cairo Chaos, with the esteemed poet extraordinaire, Toot and Carboot in collaboration with the terrifyingly talented magician, Watt the Heka. More ‘laffs than a safari full of mere cats. More rhythm than a Nile river cruise. Hear words and see magic in a story. That will amaze baffle and amuse.

With music by Glenn Sharp (Oud -representing Egypt) and Kostas Papvasileiou (Bouzouki – representing Greece). 
After Hours are evening social events where you encounter the unexpected. Artists, scientists, filmmakers, writers and musicians animate our collections in special one-off performances.

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MAES Lecture 12 November 2012 – ‘A Page from the Book of Genesis’: Changing visions of the Fayum Landscape

A lecture by Dr. Claire Malleson at Manchester Ancient Egypt Society

Monday 12th November, 7:30pm

Days Inn, Sackville Street, Manchester, M1 3AL

‘A Page from the Book of Genesis’: Changing visions of the Fayum Landscape

Representing different things to different people, the Fayum region can be viewed as the land of the Labyrinth and the Lake, a rich fertile oasis, the home of some of the most important Middle Kingdom remains, and a focus of interest regarding the changing environment in Egypt. This lecture will present some of the very different perceptions of the Fayum, from Ancient Egypt, classical Greece and Rome, Medieval Islamic scholars and early European travellers. It will examine who influenced who, and how literary trends and story-telling played a critical role in shaping our ideas as well as tracking some of the perceptions of the region which have remained the same throughout history.

Having studied Egyptology at Birkbeck College and Bloomsbury Summer Schools in London Claire started her MA (part time) in Liverpool in 2002, graduating in 2004, the topic of her thesis being Investigating Ancient Egyptian Towns: a Case Study of Itj-tawy. She began her PhD (part-time) at Liverpool in 2005 and started working on sites in Egypt, training as an archaeobotanist with Dr Murry at Giza (Mark Lehner’s site), going on to work as a botanist at other sites in Egypt. She completed her PhD in 2012, her thesis titled ‘Imagined and Experienced: Changing Perceptions of the Fayum Landscape.’ As well as Giza, she has worked at the archaeological sites of Tell el-Retaba, Medinet Gurob, Sais, Tell Mutubis, Tell el-Borg, Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham and, in the UK, Sedgeford in Norfolk and Chester Roman Amphitheatre.

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Learning at Manchester Museum

Our new Ancient Worlds gallery will be opening on 26th October and we will be developing a session for Y1 /2 which we hope to pilot February /March 2013. If you are interested in helping us to develop and pilot activities for the new session, we would like to hear from you!
we have a teacher preview evening for Ancient Worlds on November 14th 4.30-6.30
wine and nibbles will be provided.

Booking is essential as places are limited, so please RSVP by 24th October 2012 to our Bookings Coordinator on or 0161 275 2630

Early year’s sessions …
There is still some availability for booking our early years sessions by contacting our bookings coordinator.

Nursery and Reception
Animal Explorers – Polar Bear Polar Bear

For up to 15 children, 90 minutes
£3.50 per child (minimum charge £50)

Nursery Reception and Y1
Dinosaur Explorers
For up…

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Lecture by Dr. Joyce Tyldesley: ‘Senwosret is Satisfied’ – Life at Kahun

Wednesday 7th November, 6-8pm, the Manchester Museum

A lecture by Dr. Joyce Tyldesley, Programme Director for the UoM’s Online Diploma in Egyptology, and Museum Research Associate

Free. Book on 0161 275 2648

“Senwosret is Satisfied”: Life at Kahun

The Middle Kingdom town of Kahun (ancient name Hetep-Senwosret , or “Senwosret is Satisfied’) is a remarkable purpose-built settlement created to house the community of priests and workers who serviced the nearby pyramid of King Senwosret II. The excavations of Flinders Petrie in 1889-90 produced an unprecedented range of objects relating to the daily activities of ordinary Egyptians living ordinary lives at this extraordinary site. Manchester Museum is fortunate in having the finest collection of objects from Kahun.

This talk will look at the reasons for the creation of the town of Kahun, before using archaeological evidence to explore the lives of the women who lived, worked and died there.

Joyce is a popular author of works on Egyptology. Her latest book, ‘Tutankhamun’s Curse: The Developing History of an Egyptian King‘, is available now.

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