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  • Don’t ask the Archaeologist

    By Edmund Connolly, on 17 July 2014

    The archaeologist in question on site at the Parthernon

    The archaeologist in question on site at the Parthernon

    The Petrie regularly plays host to 80+ Primary School students a week who arrive at the museum armed with worksheets and  pencils in various stages of consumption. During the closing Q&A’s I often worry for my teaching prowess as I endure the same question again and again from 5 or more little upturned faces, wondering what have I done wrong, why aren’t they remembering anything?

    (more…)

    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.

    bc-ucl-mts-logo-black

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    Divorce, Adultery and Revenge: an alternate Valentine’s Day

    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.

    A rather intimate cupid and Jupiter by Raimondi. UCl Art Museum 1684

    A rather intimate Cupid and Jupiter by Raimondi. UCl Art Museum 1684

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    Pondering Petrie’s Pots

    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?…

    Grumpy pots in the Petrie

    Grumpy po[u]ts in the Petrie

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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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    So long fair thee well, pip pip cheerio, We’ll be back soon…

    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:

    VP Michael Worton presenting Ramdane Kamal with his graduation certificate, September 2013

    VP Michael Worton presenting Ramdane Kamal with his graduation certificate, September 2013

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    Reflections on ‘Plaster reproduction in the context of 3D printing’ Pop-Up Display and Lecture

    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…)

    The Legend of Petrie’s Head: A Personal Response

    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 hatboxthat 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…)

    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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    Flinders Petrie: An Adventure in Transcription

    By Rachael Sparks, on 3 September 2013

    What could be nicer than to spend your day off measuring things with a stick?

    What could be nicer than to spend your day off measuring things with a stick?

    Flinders Petrie began his autobiography by warning that “The affairs of a private person are seldom pertinent to the interests of others” [1]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…)