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  • Festival of Pots

    By Edmund Connolly, on 24 January 2014

    by guest blogger: Helen Pike

     The Festival of Pots has kicked off with some Ace pots being made by a year 6 school group from Chris Hatton based in Camden –

    These and many other examples of work by a range of community based groups attached to Holborn Community Association have been produced in the last few weeks as part of a 6 month Festival of Pots here at The Petrie.

    One of our school-made pots

    One of our school-made pots

    Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artefacts is a character in history who himself needs excavating.

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    Petrie in Britain: The Stonehenge years

    By Edmund Connolly, on 14 January 2014

    Flinders Petrie is most famous for his extensive work in Egypt, but one of his first archaeological projects was far closer to home and took place in Wiltshire. England plays host to many iconic heritage institutions and monuments, but perhaps the most recognisable is a ring of stones that have beguiled archaeologists, historians and tourists for millennia.
    Petrie's Stonehenge survey

    Petrie’s Stonehenge survey

     
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    Lighting up the Petrie Museum

    By Edmund Connolly, on 13 January 2014

    Guest blogger: Pia Edqvist

    As people might have realized, the Petrie Museum is currently closed throughout January and February. But why is the Museum closed? The Museum is currently undertaking essential lighting works; the whole museum is getting new lighting including; spot and overhead lights but also new lighting within the display cases. This means that the collection will be better lit and a more environmentally-friendly system will be installed which will also ensure greater conservation-protection for the collection. We are also hoping that the new lighting system will improve the visitor’s experience of the collection. Further enhancements of the display are also planned during this period such as to improve the mounting of objects.

    The Pottery being packed up

    The Pottery being packed up

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    Egypt on the Page: The Changing faces of Religion

    By Edmund Connolly, on 6 December 2013

    The ever popular and ever sold out (although some tickets left for the 13th December screening) Petrie Film club chronicles the application of Egypt in just some of the many cinematic and TV masterpieces that have turned to pyramids, mummies and anthropomorphic deities for their stimuli. Moving pictures are all very well, but I am a bookish type and prefer the idea of lounging by a fire with some sort of paged item, reading away. Terry Pratchett’s Pyramids certainly struck a chord with me, considering it in relation to the Petrie Collection and the concept of Ancient Egyptian religion and the changes it underwent.

    Pratchett, Pyramids (1989)  copyright: amazon.co.uk

    Pratchett, Pyramids (1989) copyright: amazon.co.uk

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    Coptic Christmas: and a Myriad of Calendars (advent or otherwise)

    By Edmund Connolly, on 29 November 2013

    Many of us may be looking forward to Christmas in a few weeks’ time, but for many of our Egyptian (and other Coptic readers) Christmas will not be until January 7th 2014.

    UC75907, Coptic embroidery from the Petrie Museum
    UC75907, Coptic embroidery from the Petrie Museum

    History

    Coptic is a bit of a hydra of a term, with a few meanings that can be used synonymously or separately. The word Coptic derives from the Greek ‘aigyptos’ referring to the people of Egypt, originally this term had nothing to do with religious order or identity. Whilst ‘Egypt’ comes from more of an Ancient Egyptian pronunciation, Copt most probably held an Arabic influence, with the initial ‘ai’ being dropped to produce the plosive ‘K’ sound (Gregorious 1982, Downer).

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    ‘African Hair Combs’ – a Conservator’s comment

    By Edmund Connolly, on 28 October 2013

    Guest Blogger: Pia Edqvist

    Has anyone seen the exhibition ’Origins of the Afro Comb, 6,000 years of Culture, Politics and Identity’ currently on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge? If so, what did you think?

    If not, you must go and see it; the display will be closing on the 3rd November and you do not want to miss this exhibition.

     

    Origins of the Afro Comb

    Origins of the Afro Comb

    On display is the iconic Black fist comb which was the symbol of the Black Civil Rights and Power Movement during the 1970’s in the USA. Earlier, the Afro comb was not very visible and for this reason it has been assumed that the afro comb was developed during this time. But this exhibition shows that the afro comb dates back to Ancient Egypt. The oldest comb is an Ancient Egyptian comb 5,500 years old which is displayed side by side with the black fist comb. The parallels between these combs are what inspired this exhibition. The connections made between the past and the present make this exhibition extra fascinating. This is also seen in the presentations of oral histories and testimonies within the exhibition which document attitudes towards hair and grooming in the present day. These contributions will also create an archive for the future.

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    Petrie Menagerie: The Aviary and Insect House

    By Edmund Connolly, on 6 September 2013

    And so we arise from the submerged depths to soar into the Egyptian firmament on the wings of their birds and beetles. Aviaries were a very early element of the menagerie and zoological garden, and were very accessible to Petrie’s peers.

    Petrie’s Menagerie #6: The Aviary and Insect House

    There are numerous iconic bird images in the Egyptian corpus: the hawk, ibis[1], and vulture being some of the most common. I will focus on the latter, considering their potential relation to Empire and Colonialism, so prevalent in the 19th century mind.

    I’m generally apathetic towards insect houses, however, the insect we are looking at today is perhaps one of the most versatile and widely used animals of our entire menagerie. Scarab beetles (Scarabaeus sacer) is a good example of a rather common place animal, the dung beetle, being revered and represented in more mystical ways due to its prevalence in Egyptian mythology.

    The Object:

    Scurrying back to my more specialist material I present this stele featuring a bloke (perhaps a priest) in Roman garb burning incense on an altar before Isis and Anubis (two gods associated, among other manifestations, with the afterlife).

    A roman stele with the scarab at the top

    A roman stele with the scarab at the top

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    Petrie Menagerie: The Aquarium and Reptile House

    By Edmund Connolly, on 30 August 2013

    Our animal companionship has grown, with horses meandering along Egyptian groves, alongside languid hippos and regal lions. Returning to our first specimen, the hippo, we will dive once more into the waters to cavort in an aquarium of fish and chill in the boreal shades of a reptile house.

    Petrie Menagerie #5: The Aquarium and the Reptile House

    Egypt has two major water sources: the Nile which acts as a spine for the country, running down into Africa, and the Mediterranean sea. Both were essential for the trade routes, travel and artefacts that Ancient Egyptians are so famous for. In addition, these important bodies of water held swarms of fish, which were a key element of the Ancient Egyptian diet. Reptiles appear in Egyptian iconography principally as snakes, scorpions and crocodiles[1] in a host of iconographic, religious and spiritual incarnations.

    An Egyptian flat fish

    An Egyptian flat fish

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    Petrie Menagerie: The Petting Zoo

    By Edmund Connolly, on 9 August 2013

    Our menagerie has now gained two members which, by most standards, its not very many, so I am now going to throw in 4 more all under one child friendly umbrella: the Petting Zoo.

     

    Petrie Menagerie #3 Domestic (including small and pick-up-able) Animals:

    Thanks to the Nile, Egypt has areas of impressive fertility, granting the locals good crops and a regular cycle of irrigation and growth. In addition to arable produce, livestock were prevalent, including chickens, sheep and donkeys (and associated hybrids).

     

    The Objects(s):

    Given the prevalence of these creatures, it’s not surprising there are many representations of them:

    A leggy pig

    A leggy pig

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    Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards.

    By Edmund Connolly, on 7 August 2013

    Reflecting on the past year for the Cultural Heritage Fellowship I am writing another post cataloguing our two final fellows, Sonia Slim (Tunisia) and Ramdane Kamal (Algeria)[1].

    Sonia is a Chief Architect at the National Institute of Heritage, with an extensive background of work and study in architecture and conservation, and archaeological site management which offered her a very unique and refreshing approach to the concept of community engagement in heritage. Her previous projects included monitoring the site of Dar Rashid and she oversaw the studies for the conversion of the opulent Ksar Said palace to the Museum of Tunisia’s Contemporary History Museum. Sonia has a very firm belief that architects should be of service to society and can help develop spaces to be of more use and appropriated by the public. Coming with such a firm belief in community engagement and services Sonia easily transitioned from the training weeks in the UK to her own project in Tunisia.

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