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Rah-rah, Senenmut – Lover of the Egyptian Queen?

Campbell@Manchester:

Upcoming lecture on Senenmut

Originally posted on Museum Meets:

Collection Bites: Rah-rah, Senenmut – Lover of the Egyptian Queen?

Wed 4 Feb, 1-2pm. In 2013, an unassuming stone fragment in the Egyptology stores was identified as part of a statue of one of ancient Egypt’s most famous personalities: Senenmut, chief minister and possible lover of Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt’s female pharaoh. Dr Campbell Price will explain the significance of the statue, and tell the story of an incredible personality from the past – as heard on BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time”!

Book online at mcrmuseum.eventbrite.com or phone 0161 275 2648, free, adults

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Biblical migrations: Re-telling the Story of Exodus

A modern view of Tell el-Maskhuta, the EEF's first excavated site

A modern view of Tell el-Maskhuta, the EEF’s first excavated site

Migration is a central theme in the Biblical story of Exodus. Quite apart from the debated historicity of the account of the departure of Hebrews from Egypt, the story of the Exodus has played an important role in the popular perception of ‘Ancient Egypt’.

For many people who were aware of Pharaonic history in the 18th and 19th Centuries, much of their information derived from the Bible. This is a major reason why the Manchester Museum has such an important collection of archaeologically-sourced objects from Egypt. In 1882, an organisation called the Egypt Exploration Fund was set up to preserve the remains of Egypt’s ancient past through archaeological recording. The first site chosen for the Fund’s work was Tell el Maskhuta, in the eastern Nile Delta – believed to be a store-city mentioned in Exodus. An account of findings from the site was published in 1885, under the title ‘The Store-City of Pithom and the Route to Exodus.’ The newly-formed Fund tapped into widespread popular interest in the supposed route of the Hebrews, and received donations specifically to investigate Biblical sites. The Fund’s founder, the redoubtable Miss Amelia B. Edwards, even wanted to give early subscribers the chance to own a genuine mudbrick, ‘made without straw, by an Isrealite in bondage’.

Thus, several monumental pieces of granite from the Delta sites came to Manchester as a result of the Egypt Exploration Fund’s focus on the area of putative Biblical events; perhaps unsurprisingly the Museum’s major Egyptological benefactor, Jesse Haworth, was a keen churchman.

Ridley Scott's new film

Ridley Scott’s new film

The appeal of the Exodus narrative continues today; the latest cinematic adaptation by Ridley Scott – Exodus: Gods and Kings – cost an estimated $140 million to produce. The presentation of ‘Ancient Egypt’, the backdrop to most of the film, is a fantastical conflation of surviving archaeological evidence and different degrees of misinterpretation of that evidence. Other commentators have elsewhere addressed the question of why ancient Egypt is so misrepresented, and which aspects of a film like ‘Exodus’ might have been improved.

For me, one particularly problematic cliché that the film perpetuates is of the ancient Egyptians as one-sided, whip-cracking slave drivers. Although most would scoff at the idea aliens built the pyramids – and, incongruously, there seem to be several pyramids under construction at once in the new Exodus film – it is still difficult for the modern Western mind to conceive of a large group of people accomplishing monumental feats such as building pyramids without cruel coercion.

The Manchester Museum preserves a world-class collection of objects that challenge the notion that ‘slaves built the pyramids’. These come from a town of specialist craftsmen who were paid, and well looked after, for their task of preparing the king’s tomb. This is one of many reasons why museums are so important. Hollywood presents a skewed version of reality, but one that has – as it is so fond of telling us – a basis in real places, amongst real people.

Museums preserve and present the artefactual evidence of living people who inhabited ancient Egypt, without the cinematic gloss (although not always without bias). One of a number of research projects currently at work on our Museum’s collection of 18,000 objects from ancient Egypt and Sudan attempts to chart the migration of people and cultural motifs from around the ancient Mediterranean into Egypt. This work is as meticulous as it is fascinating, using the latest advances in analytical scientific techniques to understand the lives of people in the past.

Dr Valentina Gasperini of the Liverpool University, examining imported pottery from New Kingdom Egypt

Dr Valentina Gasperini of the Liverpool University, examining imported pottery from New Kingdom Egypt

Perhaps one day, someone will make a film about the remarkable commonplace discoveries in museums that, among other things, help us understand the movement of people around the ancient Mediterranean – rather than repeating a lazy, monolithic vision of ‘Ancient Egypt’ that has been around for at least 200 years.

I suspect our stories would be a lot more interesting.

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Manchester TAG 2014 – Cataloguing Magic: Papers abstracts

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A Guest Post From Our Museum Beekeepers

Back in 2012,  Campbell’s blog post Beekeeping in ancient Egypt and today mentioned that we hoped that the Museum would soon have its own beehive – and now it does!

 

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Keen eyed visitors to our Ancient Worlds galleries may have spotted the inscriptions of bees on display but we also now have a rooftop hive.

In fact we’ve just   come to the end of the season for beekeeping for 2014. We’ve put them to bed for the winter.

The bees worked really hard to produce 3 supers (one of the boxes that hold the honeycombs in the hive) of honey.
Their numbers will reduce, though a core group will remain. Gathering round the queen fanning with their wings to regulate the temperature for the queen. We extracted the honey and have left one super with them to see them through the winter months.

The winter can be a tough time for bees so it’s the honey will be needed to fuel this activity as they can’t forage during winter. Hopefully this honey will see them through until the more clement weather in the spring.

The honey they have produced is a delicious and citrusy crop flavoured by the foraging from the lime trees across campus.
While we haven’t yet had enough honey to share widely it’s been a really good year for our bees, we have seen the arrival of a new queen and the colony has grown and gone from strength to strength.
We’re hoping for a short and mild winter to give them a good start for the new year.

One of the Museum’s two objectives is ‘Working towards a sustainable world’ which is a big part of why we support the bees as they’re essential to the pollination process and a healthy environment.

Ours is one of a number of hives across the Manchester PartnershipManchester Art Gallery have two, we have one and the Whitworth is set to join the fun in March 2015 – following the opening.

While we don’t have enough honey to sell this year you can still win some by suggesting a name (with a link to Manchester Museum and our collections)  via our Facebook or Twitter by this Sunday

Sam, Sally & Steve
(with thanks to Campbell)

 

 

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by | November 19, 2014 · 6:38 pm

Manchester Study Day 14/2/15 – ‘From Amulets to Golden Flies: Understanding Egyptian Jewellery’

The Riqqeh Pectoral. Acc. no. 5966

The Riqqeh Pectoral. Acc. no. 5966

‘From Amulets to Golden Flies: Understanding Egyptian Jewellery’

Saturday 14th February, 2015

Kanaris Lecture Theatre, Manchester Museum, Oxford Road

Presented by Egyptology Online in association with The Manchester Museum and the KNH Centre.

Programme

9.15 REGISTRATION: tea/coffee
9.45 Welcome and Introduction
10.00 5000 Years of Wonderful Things: Egyptian Jewellery Past and Present
Joyce Tyldesley
10.45 Amuletic Jewellery: Healing and Protection
Roger Forshaw
11.15 BREAK
11.45 Jewellery from Riqqeh Tomb 124: Forms and Functions
Campbell Price
12.30 The Curious Case of Ahhotep: a Warrior Queen or a Fondness for Flies?
Taneash Sidpura
1.00 LUNCH (please make own arrangements)
2.00 Bead Materials, Shapes and Manufacturing Methods
Denys Stocks
3.00 BREAK
3.30 Going for Gold: The Riches, Power and Influence of the Meroitic Rulers
Glenn Godenho
4.30 Conclusion

For details of fees, and to book this event, please visit the Egyptology Online website

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To publish or not to publish? A multidisciplinary approach to the politics, ethics and economics of ancient artefacs

Campbell@Manchester:

An upcoming timely discussion in Manchester about the antiquities trade

Originally posted on Faces&Voices:

The John Rylands Research Institute Seminar in Papyrology

25 October 2014, Christie Room, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester

A brief introduction on the aims of the seminar is available from here: Aims

10:45-11:00 Welcome/Introduction: Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester)

11:00 -11:30 David Gill (University Campus Suffolk): What does ‘provenance’ mean?

11:30-12:00 Neil Brodie (University of Glasgow): The role of academics

12:00-12:30 Stuart Campbell (University of Manchester): Mesopotamian objects in a conflicted world

12:30-13:30 Lunch

Chair: Roslynne Bell (University of Manchester)

13:30-14:00 Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester): Who owns the past? Private and public papyrus collections

14:00-14:30 Chris Naunton (Egypt Exploration Society, London): Association policies: the case of the Egypt Exploration Society

14:30-15:00 Coffee Break

15:00-15:30 Vernon Rapley (V&A Museum, National Museum Security Group, London): ‘Working together.’ Law enforcement and cultural sector, intelligence sharing and cooperation

15:30-16:00 James Ede (Charles Ede Ltd, London): Dealers: trade, traffic and the consequences of demonization

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Encountering Corpses

Campbell@Manchester:

Outstanding blog that nails all the points I try to make when giving people tours of Ancient Worlds

Originally posted on Manchester Museum Digital Gazette:

(Warning: this article includes images of human remains)

One of the most popular galleries in any museum is Ancient Egypt, and in that gallery the biggest attraction is often a mummy. Manchester Museum is no exception; it is renowned for its extensive Egyptology collection, and especially its mummies. But where does this fascination come from?

Howard Carter’s famous discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 made headlines worldwide, inspiring generations of would-be archaeologists, but also popularising Egyptology beyond the academic –ownership of the discipline was no longer exclusive to the university professor. This is something that continues today, the internet is proliferated with theories of curses and conspiracies, to vampires and aliens. However this public interest seems to have been spawned long before Carter   famously saw “wonderful things”. By the mid nineteenth century the animated corpse had already become a unit of gothic fictional currency, a role for which the…

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