Museums & Collections Blog
  •  
  •  
  • Categories

  •  
  • Tags

  •  
  • Archives

  • Petrie Menagerie: The Crocodile

    By Edmund Connolly, on 13 September 2013

    We have covered birds, insects, reptiles and mammals and we now end on an animal prevalent in both land and water, perhaps one of the most iconic Egyptian animals about. The Nilotic crocodile is the second largest in the world and can measure in at a hefty 6.1 metres, a worthy beast for our Petrie Menagerie.

     

    Petrie Menagerie #7: The Crocodile

    As a native inhabitant of Egypt it is not surprising these creatures are found in numerous literal and more mythology inspired presentations:

    A wooden crocodile, with a toothy grin

    A wooden crocodile, with a toothy grin

    (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

    (more…)

    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

    (more…)

    Petrie’s Menagerie: The Horse

    By Edmund Connolly, on 16 August 2013

    Last week’s animals weren’t as exotic as their forerunners, and we will be looking at another recognisable animal for both Ancient Egyptians and Victorian Londoners. As promised, this week will be examining the horse, perhaps a not so obvious element of an Egypt based menagerie.

    Petrie’s Menagerie #4 The Horse

    Man’s best friend may be a dog, but man’s most useful friend is probably the horse and I won’t insult my readers by describing one.

    “With the harnessing of its strength and swiftness to provide mobility, the horse transformed human existence”

    Lawrence, 223.

    Icelandic ponies, I spent a few holidays riding these shaggy beasts around France. copyright wikipedia.org

    Icelandic ponies, I spent a few holidays riding these shaggy beasts around France. copyright wikipedia.org

    (more…)