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  • Archive for the 'Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology' Category

    Pottery Project Guest Blog: Trade in Opium from Cyprus to Egypt

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 30 May 2014

    Guest Blog by Valentina Gasperini

    In our sixth in the series of different perspectives on Egyptian potteryValentina Gasperini, a post-doctoral reseracher at the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology University of Liverpool, looks at a Cypriote pottery vessel found in Egypt.

    As a ceramicist interested in trade and exchange, particularly at the site of Gurob (located at the entrance to the Fayum region), I would like to present a Cypriot juglet found there during Dynasty 18 (c. 1550–1292 BC) and currently located in the Petrie Museum. This vessel can be studied from a variety of viewpoints and it provides important clues about chronology, social needs and changes in fashion.

    UC13441 was found at Gurob, most probably during the Brunton and Engelbach archaeological campaign of 1920. When dealing with these early excavations the job of a ceramicist often becomes like that of a detective. By cross-examining the excavation reports and a series of clues, I have been able to trace the original context of discovery of this item: Gurob tomb 603.

    A well-travelled pottery vessel currently in the Petrie Museum, London, excavated in Egypt, but made in Cyprus more than 3000 years ago.

    A well-travelled pottery vessel currently in the Petrie Museum, London, excavated in Egypt, but made in Cyprus more than 3000 years ago.


    Egypt on the Stage: A Tale of two Queens

    By Edmund Connolly, on 20 April 2014

    Egypt has had many theatrical incarnations, one of the most famous, and my favourite, being Shakespeare’s epic The Tragedy of Anthony and Cleopatra, which forged a time defying reflection of Cleopatra Philopator, and Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.

    Most probably written around 1606 this play can be studied in conjunction with the preceding Macbeth as a play about monarchy, rulership and conquest. The two protagonists (Cleo. and Mac.) could be compared as a good and bad example of monarch; I like to think Cleopatra is definitely the paragon.

    Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in 1963 film. copyright 20th Century Fox, sourced www.imdb.com

    Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in 1963 film. copyright 20th Century Fox, sourced www.imdb.com


    The Mystery of the Norwood Petrie Portrait

    By Debbie J Challis, on 9 April 2014

    Last year I went to view two paintings at the Harris Academy, South Norwood: one is of the inventor and philanthropist William Ford Robinson Stanley and the other is of the archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie.  Stanley is the original founder of the Harris Academy (formerly known as the Stanley Technical College) and the Stanley Halls next door. I am a trustee of the charity The Stanley Peoples’ Initiative


    A portrait of Flinders Petrie? (close up)

    which is taking the Stanley Halls into community management. Obviously I work at the Petrie Museum and so was intrigued and somewhat bewildered to have two portraits of people closely connected to organisations I am involved in and care about on my doorstep.


    Pottery Project Guest Blog: Ceramic Inheritance

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 6 April 2014

    Guest Blog by Sisse Lee Jørgenser.

    In our fourth in the series on different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Sisse Lee Jørgensen, a student studying ceramics at The Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design Bornholm, Denmark, reveals how Petrie’s Sequence Dating inspired her recent installation.

    I was introduced to Petrie’s pots for the first time by the BBC4 program: “The Man Who Discovered Egypt”,  and it was through this documentary that I learnt about sequence dating.
    As a craftsperson today I found this  chronological ordering of ceramic vessels especially interesting, particularly the very striking development of form and design over time. Petrie’s findings illuminated crafting, culture and history, not just in the past but also  prompted me to reflect upon ceramic traditions today and the way in which old crafts are transformed and passed on, yet retain elements of the old ways.

    Flinders Petrie's classification of pottery. Frontispiece of Diospolis Parva (1901). Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society.

    Flinders Petrie’s classification of Predynastic pottery. Frontispiece of Diospolis Parva (1901). Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society.


    Pottery Project Guest Blog: The Enigmatic Fish Dishes of the Petrie Museum

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 21 March 2014

    Guest blog by Mary Ownby  and Bettina Bader

    In the third in our series of different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Mary Ownby, Petrographic Researcher at Desert Archaeology Inc,  and Bettina Bader, Institut für Ägyptologie der Universität Wien, investigate the purpose of vessels that Egyptologists find puzzling.

    Analysis of Egyptian pottery provides great insight into how the Egyptians worked, ate, carried out religious activities, and related to the larger social and economic system. For most vessels, their shape can inform on their use, i.e. a jar is probably for storage, a large pot with a narrow opening for cooking, and bowls and plates for serving food. The location where ancient pottery has been found can also inform on how it was used, for example in an oven, or as ritual implements in the burial. In Egypt, depictions on tomb and temple walls as well as some texts also tell us about the variety of purposes ceramic vessels were used for. Thus, most ancient Egyptian pottery has a fairly clear use in the past.

    Pots being put to good use. Bread making scene from the Old Kingdom Tomb of Ti at Saqqara.


















    The History of Varsity

    By Edmund Connolly, on 17 March 2014

    The last weekend saw some fantastic weather and some even more celebratory UCL sport. From the 7th March UCL has been part of the London Varsity Series playing against the rival London College, Kings, in a series of six sporting events. For many, sports and college varsities evoke an idea of elitism and aggressive competition, but I must say I disagree and support the idea as a way of encouraging inter-collegiate relations and development.

    Varsity teams, copyright UCLU

    Varsity teams, copyright UCLU


    A Fusion of Worlds – Negro Aroused (1935) by Edna Manley

    By Debbie J Challis, on 15 March 2014

    One of the great pleasures of working on exhibitions is finding out about history, technologies or artists you never knew much (or anything) about before. While working with Gemma Romain from UCL Equiano Centre on A Fusion of Worlds. Ancient Egypt, African Art and Identity in Modernist Britain, I learnt a great deal more about the influence of Ancient Egypt on the Harlem Renaissance and African-American activism. I already knew quite a lot about Jacob Epstein’s use of ancient art in his work but did not know how much he admired contemporary African sculpture. I only knew the artist Ronald Moody from his bust of his brother Harold Moody – founder of the League of Coloured Peoples in the UK in 1931 – which used to be in display in the National Portrait Gallery. I had, however, never knowingly come across the artist Edna Manley before. (more…)

    A Piece of a Giant Jigsaw: a newly re-discovered pot from Naqada

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 11 March 2014

    A garage in Cornwall, UK, seems an unlikely place for a piece of prehistoric Egyptian culture to turn up. But a few months ago it did.

    I was recently contacted by a couple, Guy Funnell and Amanda Hawkins, who had just watched the BBC documentary The Man Who Discovered Egypt which profiled the career of Flinders Petrie. The name rang a bell and reminded them of a little broken pot they had tucked away in storage. Associated with it was a yellow, curling label bearing the title ‘Libyan Pottery’


    Message in a bottle: label found with a Predynastic pot in Cornwall. A clue!


    Pottery Project Guest Blog: Pondering Petrie’s Broken Pots

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 7 March 2014

    Guest Blog by Grazia di Pietro

    In the second in our series of different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Dr Grazia di Pietro, UCL Marie Curie Research Fellow, looks at what we can learn from incomplete fragments of prehistoric pottery.

    For museum curators finding room in a gallery for exhibiting nice whole pots can be as challenging as trying to answer questions like: What was their function, context of use, symbolic meaning?. Answering these questions is also one of the objectives of pottery specialists researching in field projects or in ceramic analysis laboratories. However – needless to say – the pottery they have to deal with is often very different from what can be observed in a museum case.

    Let’s go back for a moment to the initial issue: finding space for our pots! Well, they would occupy less room if broken in small pieces and (obviously) even less space if some of these potsherds were discarded or piled in a corner, irrespective of their previous location and sorting… We would eventually have created something similar to that which archaeologists frequently face in an excavation: tons of broken vessels (but still with great informative potential!).

    Pottery piece: Rim sherd with red polished surface and white painted decoration (Petrie’s "Cross-Lined ware" C-Ware)

    Pottery piece: Rim sherd with red polished surface and white painted decoration (Petrie’s “Cross-Lined ware” C-Ware)


    Museum Training for the World

    By Edmund Connolly, on 7 March 2014

    UCL is launching a new project with the British Council to help develop and teach new methods of Museum management. The Museum Training School opened this week and is aimed at mid-career professionals who are aspiring to be emerging leaders in the museum sector.