By Edmund Connolly, on 7 March 2014
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By Edmund Connolly, on 14 February 2014
Valentine’s Day can be an arduous 24 hours of franchised affection and a reminder that being single is not socially commendable. To play the merry dissenter, and offer those of you who are not a fan of the day, I will celebrate 4 archaeological heroes who flew in the face of Valentine’s lucid message and offer a far more commendable representation of love.
By Alice E Stevenson, on 4 February 2014
When you think about ancient Egypt what comes to mind? Plenty of things beginning with the letter ‘P’ no doubt: Pyramids! Pharaohs! Papyrus! Maybe even Petrie. But Pottery?…(more…)
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.
By Edmund Connolly, on 20 December 2013
Following the wise Dickensian ( /Lionel Bart) sentiment this will be the final blog post from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology for 2013 and we will be closed until March 2014 to have a fulgurating new light system installed. Despite the museum being closed, the collection is still active. We have a plethora of events and activities going on across campus and Camden, with further details here that will be leading towards a large summer celebration, something to look forward to after the excitement of Christmas.
We can also be followed online via twitter: @PetrieMuseEgypt and on our shiny new facebook page: Excavating Objects: Behind the scenes at the Petrie Museum or, if pictures are more your thing follow our instagram where we have a host of images of objects and events that show what a vibrant and diverse museum we are: @Petriemuseum
A small summary of our year:
By Helen R Cobby, on 22 November 2013
Mona Hess, Research Assistant for 3D imaging and project co-ordinator of the Petrie Museum’s 3D imaging project, curated a Pop-Up display this November on 3D printing and scanning at UCL Art Museum. 3D printing is a new and high profile phenomenon that started in 2007. The aim of the Petrie research has been to make use of the opportunities this technology creates in the museum space, such as engaging with a diverse and wide audience through the creation of 3D objects.
This Pop-Up workshop wove together film clips of high resolution colour laser 3D scanning to demonstrate how different types of technology works, as well as addressing techniques first-hand with the use of a mini hand scanner with the use of a low cost hand scanner based on near-infrared detection originally used for motion tracking. (more…)
By Debbie J Challis, on 9 October 2013
In a recent article for the journal Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Sara Perry and I explored the myths around the fact that the head of archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) is a specimen in the collections of the Royal College of Surgeons. We tried to understand the context in which Petrie donated his head to science – his eugenic ideas, his focus on the face, his pedagogical collecting and curation practices – and along the way confronted many of the legends that have grown up around Petrie’s head. One of the most famous, that Hilda Petrie brought back her husband’s head in a hat box from Jerusalem after World War Two, was repeated in the recent BBC4 television documentary The Man Who Discovered Egypt. In fact, letters in the Petrie Museum archive illustrate that that ‘romantic’ legend is just not true (romantic arguably as it has some parallels with wives such as Mary Shelley retaining their loved one’s body parts).
Second only to the legends about how it got to England are the stories about who has seen Petrie’s head, many of which are true, some of which we chronicled in the article. Petrie’s head became a talking point for archaeologists in ‘the know’ until the publication of Margaret Drower’s 1985 biography which explicitly states where Petrie’s head is. I have not seen Petrie’s head and have no desire to do so while it is locked away in its current state (fully fleshed) in a cupboard. Personally I feel that to gain access just for the sake of seeing the head and saying that I have seen it would be merely titillating and serve no real educational or research purpose for myself or anyone else. (more…)
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, 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.
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).
By Rachael Sparks, on 3 September 2013
Flinders Petrie began his autobiography by warning that “The affairs of a private person are seldom pertinent to the interests of others” . Fortunately for both us and his publisher this proved no impediment, and Petrie went on to write about himself, his thoughts and his life’s work at great length.
Petrie was a prolific writer, both in the public and private arena, and we are not short of material to help us learn about his life. But not everything he wrote was wordy. I’d like to introduce you today to a more unexpected side of his penmanship: his personal appointment diaries. (more…)
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 in a host of iconographic, religious and spiritual incarnations.