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Tell your mummy – a new Egyptian gallery

1 September 2006 by Karen

You might have seen on our main site that we have recently been awarded £300,000 towards the refurbishment of the Egyptian gallery at World Museum Liverpool. This is fab news as the gallery is a real favourite despite being 30 years old – it was the one I always looked forward to when I was a kid (the mummies were the best, obviously).

Anyhoo, as the old gallery is dismantled and the new one installed we’ll fill you in on our progress and all the new (old) stuff that will be on show. This installment looks at the incredibly rare and fragile papyri, (paper made from the papyrus plant) that are going on display. 

a piece of brown paper with black Egyptian text on it

A small part of the Mayer A papyrus

The papyri in the collection are some of the most significant late New Kingdom documents in existence (c.1100 BC). They belong to a series of manuscripts that record the capture and inquisition of ordinary Egyptians accused of stealing from royal tombs and sacred places in Thebes. They bring to life the lives and conditions of the poorer members of the population during this dramatic period.

The court proceedings tell how gold, silver, copper and clothing had been stolen from tombs and other buildings. Witnesses confessed after severe beatings to their hands and feet, after which many were imprisoned or put to death.

This part of the Mayer papyrus (above) records the interrogation and beating of a weaver called Wennakht. Like many witnesses Wennakht was brought to court on account of the actions of his dead father, Taty, who was killed when he was a child. Likewise, many women who were married to thieves gave evidence. One of these women, Inneri, was beaten upon her feet and hands and confessed that her husband, Tasheris, had taken some copper. “We traded it and we spent it” she says.

Two men on a barren hill looking down to a lush river valleyThe view from the Valley of the Kings, down across the Nile valley. This is where the robberies and subsequent trials took place.

For more information on the gallery contact the curator of the collection, Ashley Cooke.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.