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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Object of the Week 357: A Sudanese Tulip in Bloomsbury

By Anna E Garnett, on 7 September 2018

The Petrie Museum Manager, Maria Ragan, is leaving us next week to head to pastures new as the new Director of the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery. As a small token of our great affection for everything Maria has done for the Petrie Museum over the past (almost) four years she has been in post, I’d like to offer this beautiful vessel for our Object of the Week – her favourite object in the collection (UC13214). (more…)

Curating the Petrie Museum: Three Object Stories

By Anna E Garnett, on 26 July 2017

I’ve just come to the end of my first month as Curator of the Petrie Museum. While my feet are getting closer to the ground with every day that passes, I am truly struck by this incredible collection every time I walk into the galleries and I’m sure this will continue to be the case for a long time to come!

For my first blog post as Curator, I wanted to present my ‘favourite object’ from the Petrie Museum collection. However, it’s such a challenge to pinpoint only one object so I’ve chosen three! Each of these objects looks somewhat unassuming amongst the vast collection, but have their own unique stories to tell about how ancient Egyptians and Sudanese people made, used and re-used objects.


Petrie Museum Ceramics – Conservation Needs Survey

By Nick J Booth, on 10 December 2015

This is a guest blog written by our Senior Conservator Susi Pancaldo. 

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology houses one of the largest and most important collections of Egyptian materials in the UK. About 12,000 of the 80,000 objects are made of ceramic and, of these, roughly 3,400 are on display in the Pottery Gallery!

Pottery inspection at the Petrie Museum.

Pottery inspection at the Petrie Museum.


Dragons of Arabia

By Edmund Connolly, on 2 October 2014

Yours truly recently trotted off to the British Museum to see the new Ming Exhibition the other day. Given the varied reviews of Vikings, I was glad to see a new exhibition which was back on top form.


Ming Highlights c. The Standard

Ming Highlights c. The Standard


Petrie Pottery Project Guest Blog: Reinventing the (Potter’s) Wheel

By Alice Stevenson, on 10 June 2014

Guest blog by Sarah Doherty

In the seventh in our series of thoughts about the Petrie pottery collction, Dr. Sarah K. Doherty, Ceramicist & Archaeologist for the Gurob Harem Palace Project, Fayoum and Gebel el Silsila Epigraphic Project, near Kom Ombo, Egypt, discusses some dinky little pots dating to the time of the earliest true Egyptian pyramids.

After you step through the doorway from the UCL’s Science Library into the Petrie Museum you would be forgiven for missing the little pots that I am going to tell you about in this blog. However, bear with me, pots UC17625, 17630, 17632, and 17631 in pottery case P16 may not look like much, but they hold the secret for a new technological revolution that was going on during Egypt’s Old Kingdom (c.2600 B.C.). Each of these miniature vessels is made of Nile Silt, they date to the 4th dynasty (2600-2450 B.C.) and come from the Old Kingdom pyramid site of Meydum (c. 100km south of Cairo). In fact, some of these vessels were part of the foundation deposit of the pyramid temple of Sneferu at Meydum; others are from similar deposits in the mastabas of his courtiers.

Left to right: UC17630, UC17625, UC17631. Photos: S. Doherty © Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Left to right: UC17630, UC17625, UC17631. Photos: S. Doherty © Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology


Pondering Petrie’s Pots

By Alice 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


From the Field to the Museum and Back Again

By Edmund Connolly, on 1 November 2013

by guest blogger: Alice Stevenson
What are the chances? Two teams of archaeologists separated by a more than century stumbling across small fragments of the same object while working across a wide expanse of desert? Quite high as it happens.

At the turn of the 19th century Flinders Petrie’s teams were trawling through the debris of the tombs of the first rulers of Egypt at a site called Abydos.

Reconstruction of First Dynasty royal tomb of Den at Abydos, February 2013

Reconstruction of First Dynasty royal tomb of Den at Abydos, February 2013


The great zombie apocalypse

By Rachael Sparks, on 8 October 2013

Curatorial dilemma no 1: how to defend against zombie attack

Curatorial dilemma no 1: how to defend against zombie attack

On September 18th, UCL Museums and Collections participated in a worldwide event on Twitter: Ask a Curator day.  The plan was to have a handful of curators on call to deal with questions as they flooded in from a curious public. The reality was that we didn’t have many queries sent directly to our feed, so we went out into the Twittersphere to seek out interesting questions to answer. As Keeper of the Institute of Archaeology Collections, I spent an hour manning the virtual desk, and found it an interesting experience. (more…)

A passage from India

By Rachael Sparks, on 12 January 2012

The mysterious ‘Saxon’ pot

Let me introduce you to one of the more unusual pieces in the Institute of Archaeology Collections. I first met it last year, when it was returned to us from the Museum of London from an extended and unintentionally long period of loan. It has a convoluted history with an unexpected punch line. (more…)

Relight my fire

By Rachael Sparks, on 2 December 2011

Ancient vessels have usually gone through a lot before making their way into a comfortable museum store. First they have to survive the dangerous business of production and come out of the kiln intact and as intended. If they pass muster, they then have to make it through being packed up and shipped off to market, near or far. Then there are the ministrations of their new owners to be borne, with all the risks of having chips come off here and there through rough handling. Sooner or later, every amphora knows some clumsy owner is going to end up knocking its handles off. And then into a pit with it, where its carcass suffers further indignities as rubbish is thrown in on top, or into a tomb where the ceiling might fall in and inflict yet more distress. Only to be in danger once more from the swing of the excavator’s pick. (more…)