Author Archives: egyptmanchester

Meet Terry Deary at the Manchester Museum

Watch this film and see how you could win a signed copy of Terry Deary’s Egyptian Tales and meet Terry himself!

Send your entry to the Manchester Museum (Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL) by August 26th.

In conjunction with the exhibition: Unearthed! (September 30th 2011-September 6th 2012)

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Ancient Worlds on video at The Manchester Museum

We are developing digital content for the Ancient Worlds gallery project at The Manchester Musuem, creating high res digital images of 1000 objects with the photographer Paul Cliff and making short videos that focus on aspects of the ancient world, in particular Egypt. These are gradually being uploaded to the Manchester Museum flickr site – here is an example, when our New Media Officer, Steve Devine, ambushed me in the store one Friday!

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Curator’s Diary Tuesday 26th July 2011: a sad goodbye

Yesterday I attended the memorial service in Knutsford for Bob Partridge, a well-known figure in Egyptology, particularly in Manchester where

Bob Partridge in Egypt

Bob Partridge in Egypt

he ran the hugely successful Manchester Ancient Egypt Society and edited Ancient Egypt magazine. MAES has hosted some of the most famous names in Egyptology for talks in Manchester, and through the Society and Bob’s work the support for Egyptology in Manchester has grown and grown. The Manchester Museum’s Egypt collection has benefited over the years from the interest and support of members of MAES and of Bob himself – most recently the Society raised money to contribute to the redisplay of Asru in the new Ancient Worlds galleries, for which the Museum is immensely grateful.

I returned from London on Friday after teaching a week-long Bloomsbury Summer School course on Perceptions of Egypt, which explored the roots of our ideas about Egypt, and the nature of ancient Egypt’s continued popularity. The course was attended by people from the USA, Spain and the UK, all of whom contributed to the extended discussions we had on everything from aliens building the pyramids to mummy films and Egypt as an African culture. We ended the course with a walk looking at ancient and Art Deco Egypt in London – the photo below shows the group in front of one of the sphinxes at Cleopatra’s Needle on the Victoria Embankment.

Bloomsbury Summer School 2011

Bloomsbury Summer School 2011

I am now back at the Museum where we are focusing on the development of digital content for the Ancient Worlds galleries. The photographer, Paul Cliff, and his assistant, Victoria, began work yesterday and are producing beautiful images to be used in various ways in association with the new galleries. The Egypt galleries have been partially emptied to allow the photography to take place and to begin the conservation of objects for Unearthed!, the temporary Egypt exhibition featuring Terry Deary of Horrible Histories fame, opening in September 2011, and for Ancient Worlds, opening towards the end of next year.

Wedjat ring for Ancient Worlds digital content

Wedjat ring for Ancient Worlds digital content

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Curator’s Diary, Monday July 4th 2011

Over the last couple of months I have been almost entirely focussed on putting together object lists for the Ancient Worlds galleries, due to open in October 2012. The lists, of over 2000 objects for the

Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra's Needle, Victoria Embankment

Egypt gallery alone, were sent to the designers, Opera, in Amsterdam, on Friday afternoon. Now we will move on to the next stage, developing layouts, seeing which objects won’t make the final cut due to space or conservation issues, and beginning to think in more detail about interpretive media: text, images, maps, audio, videos and so on. I have also been speaking to photographers and digital media specialists about developing digital resources such as 3D modelling of objects for use on the gallery and on the mobile website we are developing in association with the Ancient Worlds galleries.

I spent last Tuesday in London, at Egypt Exploration Society meetings, including a press event at the Middle East Society in Mayfair where we talked about the current and future work of the Society in the ‘New Egypt’ to an audience of journalists, Egyptian business representatives, travel companies and academics, to spread the word of the Society’s work (see It was a hugely succesful event with a high level of attendance and lots of positive feedback.

While I was in london I took the opportunity to prepare some of the sessions for my forthcoming Bloomsbury Summer School, Perceptions of Egypt: Mummymania to Museums (18th-22nd July). The course will include a walk around central London looking at Egyptian and Egyptianising achitecture, including the columns on the facade of the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery, and Cleopatra’s Needle on the Victoria Embankment.

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Partial closure of the Egypt galleries at The Manchester Museum, Summer 2011

We have now started work on our new Ancient Worlds galleries, opening late 2012, which will replace the current Ancient Egypt and Archaeology galleries. The Daily Life section of Ancient Egypt is now closed but most of our mummies and our archaeology collection will stay on display until Feb 2012.

You’ll be able to see many of the removed objects in our temporary exhibition Unearthed: Ancient Egypt, which will run 30 Sep 2011-6 Sep 2012.

The three new Ancient Worlds galleries will be called Discovering Archaeology, The Egyptian World and Exploring Objects. Highlighting our collections from Manchester and the region, and from ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome and Egypt, these galleries will reveal the stories behind the objects, through people who lived long ago as well as modern day archaeologists, historians and collectors.

The new Ancient Worlds galleries are supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Monument Trust, The Headley Trust, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and The Foundation for Sport and the Arts.

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Secret Egypt – Excavating Ancient Egypt – Coventry Day School

Saturday 28th May, 10am-4pm

EES excavating at Amarna

EES excavating at Amarna

The Herbert Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5QP
 £25 including lunch

Find out more about recent discoveries in Egypt with archaeologists
from the Egypt Exploration Society including Penny Wilson,
Chris Naunton, David Jeffreys and Karen Exell.

This event is a joint venture of the EES and the organisers of
Secret Egypt: Unravelling Truth from Myth, an exhibition at the
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum featuring ancient Egyptian
treasures from some of the UK’s most important collections.

The programme for the day is as follows:

10.00 Museum opens
10:15 Registration and coffee
10:45 Welcome and opening remarks by Dr Karen Exell who will
chair the Study-Day
10.50 Chris Naunton, The City of Akhenaten: EES work at
Tell El-Amarna
11:50 Chris Kirby, Introduction to the Secret Egypt Exhibition
12.15 Lunch (buffet provided) and an opportunity to see the
Secret Egypt exhibition
13.30 Dr Penny Wilson, The Books of Buried Treasure: Archaeological
Guides or Heritage Nightmare?
14.30 Dr David Jeffreys, The EES at Memphis: current issues and
future directions
15.30 Discussion and closing remarks by Dr Exell

To book your place please contact the Egypt Exploration Society on
0207 242 1880 or, or book on-line at

For further information on the exhibition please see

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Women and Egyptology at Manchester

Wednesday 11th May 2011, 5.30-6.30

Margaret Murray unwrapping in 1908

Margaret Murray unwrapping in 1908

Cafe Couture @ The Manchester Museum
Oxford Road
Manchester, United Kingdom

I will be giving  a talk on female Egyptologists at Manchester, from Margaret Murray unwrapping mummies to Amelia Edwards, author of A thousand Miles Up the Nile and her links with the North West and the development of the collections at the Manchester Museum.

This is one of the Cafe Historique series of lectures –  Cafe Historique is open to anyone with an intereste in Manchester’s cosmopolitan heritage.


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Colloquium: Graeco-Roman Egypt in Manchester

Friday 10th June 2011

John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester

This colloquium will discuss and explore the Graeco-Roman collections held in the Manchester Museum and the John Rylands Library special collections, an immensely rich collection of material including everything from documentary papyri to the famous Fayyum portraits excavated by Flinders Petrie over a hundred years ago. The colloquium is organised by Dr Roberta Mazza, from the Religions and Theology Department of the University of Manchester.

There is no registration fee, but £15  for joining the lunch if interested. Because of organizational matters, if you would like to attend please contact Roberta Mazza by 20 May at the following e-mail address:

Further information on the colloquium programme can be found here: GREat Manchester

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Curator’s Diary, Sunday 1st May 2011: Egyptology in Cameroon

I have just returned from Cameroon where I had been invited to examine the PhD thesis of Emmanuel Bitong at the University of Yaounde I. The

With the candidate at the end of the successful viva

With the candidate at the end of the successful viva

invitation came from Dr Pierre Oum Ndigi, Emmanuel’s spervisor, who studied for 25 years in Lyon, France, with Goyon, before returning to Cameroon to bring his knowledge back and establish Egyptology as a discipline at the University.

The viva examination took place in a lecture hall with over 200 people present. I was the chair of the jury of five, and the exam took 4 1/2 hours. When the success of the candidate was announced, the place went crazy – very emotional. Afterwards we all went for a slap up meal with champagne (indeed!) on campus.

There are very few resources for Egyptology in Cameroon – no library, little access to computers and the internet, no museums where objects can be seen, and for Pierre, lecturer in the history department, only a small loaned office to work from. The achievement of Emmanuel – to complete a PhD in this context – is extraordinary, and the experience for me entirely humbling. There

Dr Pierre Oum Ndigi

is a huge interest in Egyptology amongst the students, and a deep interest in connections between Bantu language and customs and those of ancient Egypt. This is an aspect of ancient Egypt little explored in the West, and opens up whole new interpretations of aspects of ancient Egypian culture, such as divination and ancestor worship.

I will be doing what I can to help Pierre and Emmanuel establish their Egyptology centre in Yaounde. I have already sent lists of free electronic resources (of limited benefit given the lack of computers) and will be sending books to begin the library. If you would like any further information, or would like to donate any books on Egyptology or Archaeology to help establish the library please let me know ( – any publications will be absolutely devoured by the students.
More photos of my Cameroon trip can be found here:


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Perceptions of Egypt summer school course

Perceptions of Egypt: from Mummymania to Museums

Part of the Bloomsbury Summer School 2011

Dr Karen Exell

Curator, Egypt and Sudan, Manchester Museum, University of Manchester

Ancient Egypt is more popular today than it has ever been. TV programmes, films, novels and the internet contain a

Carerras Cigarette Factory

Carerras Cigarette Factory, London (Built 1926-8)

vast array of interpretations of ancient Egypt, often casting it as a place adventure, romance and esoteric knowledge. There are around 50 ancient Egypt societies in the UK alone, where enthusiasts share their knowledge and interests. Ancient Egypt is integral to Key Stage 2 teaching at primary schools and   cultural tours to Egypt are perennially popular. Within academia, conferences and academic papers analyse the cultural impact of the contemporary fascination with ancient Egypt. Bridging the two are museums and exhibitions which offer the material culture of Egypt in a variety of interpretations.

This course will look at how Egypt has been received and interpreted in the West since the discovery of the Rosetta stone in 1799 and the subsequent translation of hieroglyphs in 1822, up to the present. We will discuss the romance of archaeology, from Belzoni to Zahi Hawass via Howard Carter, assess and discuss the impact of early museum displays and changing methods of interpretation, look at examples of Egyptianising architecture, and discuss movie clips and fiction extracts. The course will include museum visits and a half-day London walk.

18-22 July 2011, UCL, London

For further information visit:

Or contact: Lucia Gahlin,

Bloomsbury Summer School, Department of History, UCL, Gower St. London WC1E 6BT

Tel: 020 7679 3622


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