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Object of the Week: A child’s toy pig

Alice EWilliams3 August 2018

UC7205: A child’s toy pig

We have some exciting news about Specimen of the Week! We’re expanding the scope of SOTW to include more UCL Museums and collections. Here’s the first blog from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, and keep your eyes peeled for blogs about specimens and objects from UCL Art Museum, UCL Pathology Museum and more as well as your favourites from the Grant Museum.

In a display case in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology stands a little mud figure of a pig. At least it is thought to be a pig. It is so small, no bigger than a thumb nail, that you would be excused for not noticing it among the dense displays of archaeological objects. This figurine was originally thought to be a toy made by a child, but is that really true? (more…)

Flies, Cats and Rat Traps: the Ordinary Animals of Ancient Egypt

Anna EGarnett15 November 2017

The Grant Museum’s current exhibition – The Museum of Ordinary Animals: The Boring Beasts that Changed the World ­­- explores the mundane creatures in our everyday lives. Here on the blog, we will be delving into some of the stories featured in the exhibition. This week we investigate some of the Ordinary Animals on loan from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

Ask anyone about ancient Egypt and standard responses generally include pyramids, mummies, Tutankhamun, and sometimes (if you’re lucky) animals. Ancient Egyptians were keen observers of their natural environment and are well-known for representing all manner of flora and fauna in their artistic works. Gods and goddesses were also associated with particular animals and their behaviour: for example, the jackal god Anubis guarded the cemeteries of the dead, just as real jackals roamed the desert edge. What is perhaps less well-known is how ancient Egyptians considered the ‘ordinary animals’ who lived side-by-side with them in the Nile Valley. Egyptians utilised a wide variety of wild animals and some of these were domesticated, some kept as pets, and others were considered as vermin – just as they are today.

UC45976

Mummified cat, currently on show in The Museum of Ordinary Animals exhibition (UC45976)

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There and (eventually) back again: a tale of three papyri

Anna EGarnett19 September 2017

The ‘Gurob Shrine Papyrus’ (UC27934ii)

It’s been a busy month for us at the Petrie Museum, not only gearing up for the start of the autumn term but also preparing object loans for upcoming exhibitions. Our vast collection offers many opportunities to contribute to varied exhibition narratives: our objects illustrate life in the Nile Valley over thousands of years, from Prehistory through the pharaonic period and right through to the Greco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic periods. We also hold a world-renowned collection of papyrus, which is the focus of our ongoing Papyrus for the People project funded by Arts Council England. We have loaned papyri to three very different exhibitions this September, which each tell fascinating stories of life and death in ancient Egypt. (more…)

Festival of Pots

EdmundConnolly24 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

EdmundConnolly14 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

EdmundConnolly13 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

EdmundConnolly6 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)

EdmundConnolly29 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

EdmundConnolly28 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

EdmundConnolly6 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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