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Object of the Week 365: A Model Boat

Anna E Garnett2 November 2018

Over the last year, Olivia Foster (MA student in the Institute of Archaeology, UCL) worked as a valued member of the Petrie Museum team as collections volunteer. During this time, Olivia has undertaken a range of work on collections care, documentation and object loans, and in this blog she discusses one of her favourite objects in the Petrie Museum collection.

This small and unassuming model boat in the Petrie Museum collection (UC10805) was recovered from a tomb in Abadiyeh during Flinders Petrie’s excavations in the late 1890s. The decorated pottery object has been dated to the Naqada I period and the original function of the item is unclear.

UC10805

Objects such as this are important when it comes to understanding Predynastic Egypt, as they represent technology that has not survived in the archaeological record. Despite the important economic and symbolic role that boats are thought to have played in the Predynastic, no complete vessels have been found and archaeologists must instead rely on the art of the period to learn about their construction, size and function. This object and others like it also played a pivotal role in the heated debates between Petrie and his contemporaries as they discussed what exactly was being depicted in the decorated pottery of the era.

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Figure of the Moment

uczcast4 June 2014

Predynastic Egyptian figurine UC9601 is very much in demand right now. She has just finished a stint as the poster girl for the Petrie Museum’s A Fusion of Worlds exhibition. Now this petite, 6.6 cm-high pottery statuette is on her way to the Centre Pompidou-Metz, France where she will feature in the international exhibition Simple Shapes, alongside works by Barbara Hepworth, Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore.

UC9601, Egyptian figurine dating to c.3600 BC. Excavated from the surface of cemetery 100 at Qau in the early 1920s.

UC9601, Egyptian figurine dating to c.3600 BC. Excavated from the surface of cemetery 100 at Qau in the early 1920s.

Design etched onto the back of UC9601. Representation of a tattoo, a garment or a basket?

Design etched onto the back of UC9601. Representation of a tattoo, a garment or a basket?

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Pottery Project Guest Blog: Ceramic Inheritance

uczcast6 April 2014

Guest Blog by Sisse Lee Jørgenser.

In our fourth in the series on different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Sisse Lee Jørgensen, a student studying ceramics at The Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design Bornholm, Denmark, reveals how Petrie’s Sequence Dating inspired her recent installation.

I was introduced to Petrie’s pots for the first time by the BBC4 program: “The Man Who Discovered Egypt”,  and it was through this documentary that I learnt about sequence dating.
As a craftsperson today I found this  chronological ordering of ceramic vessels especially interesting, particularly the very striking development of form and design over time. Petrie’s findings illuminated crafting, culture and history, not just in the past but also  prompted me to reflect upon ceramic traditions today and the way in which old crafts are transformed and passed on, yet retain elements of the old ways.

Flinders Petrie's classification of pottery. Frontispiece of Diospolis Parva (1901). Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society.

Flinders Petrie’s classification of Predynastic pottery. Frontispiece of Diospolis Parva (1901). Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society.

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Making time for Predynastic Egypt

Debbie J Challis5 September 2013

Predynastic pottery in gallery of Petrie Museum

Predynastic pottery in gallery of Petrie Museum

Written by Alice Stevenson

Flinders Petrie was good with numbers. He liked nothing better than to measure, calculate and plan. These were the skills that allowed Petrie in 1899 to create the first detailed timeline for the period just before the First Dynasty of Egypt.

He did this by comparing assemblages of hundreds of Predynastic pottery vessels unearthed by his teams in prehistoric cemeteries of Upper Egypt. Many of these beautiful pots are on display in the Petrie Museum. The Petrie Museum also holds in its archives his Sequence Dating slips, each of which records the different types of pottery that were found in individual tombs. (more…)