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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 Lions

    By Edmund Connolly, on 2 August 2013

    Last week our hippo specimen was proudly placed in the menagerie, bobbing along in his lethargic way. Continuing with our wanderings through  the animal objects Petrie brought back to Britain I will look at one of the most notorious and influential exotic animals: the Lion.

     Specimen # 2  Lion:

    I don’t need to describe a lion, we all know them, recognise them and have probably seen one in one form or another.  The lion is sadly extinct in modern Egypt, however Ancient Egypt would have most probably played host to a beast similar to the Barbary lion, a huge species which were hunted to extinction in 1922.

    A lion gaming piece. With rather sticky out ears

    A lion gaming piece. With rather sticky out ears

    (more…)