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Journey to a sacred city

30 January 2009 by Lisa

Volunteer Tom Hawley came along with me to a talk by our Antiquities Curator, Carolyn Routledge, and has written this blog to tell you all about it. You also can see the photos of Carolyn’s trip to the ‘Sacred City of Abydos’ on Flickr, including her exciting journey into a tomb.


The most recent talk by Dr. Carolyn Routledge at the Treasure House Theatre, World Museum Liverpool, was filled with tales of gore and splendour. The talk was accompanied by photographs of Dr. Routledge herself, exploring ancient tombs in the Egyptian desert. During her time on the archaeological site in Upper Egypt, Dr. Routledge worked alongside different institutions, mainly from the United States. Dr. Routledge took us on a historical tour of some of the oldest tombs in Egypt, located in the ancient city of Abydos, about six miles west of the River Nile.
Carolyn Routledge in front of a stone artefact in the Egypt gallery.

Dr. Carolyn Routledge in the Ancient Egypt gallery.

Many of the larger knives on display in the Ancient Egypt gallery and the World Museum, were thought to have been used for ritual killings. One of the bodies found in Abydos is believed to have been a male servant. It was the favourite servants who were ritually killed, buried alongside their pharaoh and taken with him to the afterlife. Some compliment indeed! The name found with this dead servant was ‘Nefer’, who also happened to be a dwarf. There is evidence to suggest that dwarves were very highly respected in ancient Egypt, holding important responsibilities. In fact, the name Nefer translates into English as beautiful, or good.

Another exhibit on display at the Ancient Egypt gallery is a red necklace, moulded from metal into the shape of an oyster shell. Dr. Routledge told us that the necklace could be made of electrum (a naturally occurring combination of gold and silver) that has corroded to a red colour, or it could be made of a gold alloy containing some copper, which is a rare ‘red gold’. They hope to find out in the future whether it is made from red gold, which would make this necklace a rare treasure!

It was interesting to discover the stories behind some of the museum’s exhibits. They’re not just beautiful, but they have remarkable tales attached to them. Make sure you check out World Museum Liverpool’s events and activities page for future and upcoming events. And don’t forget… they’re all free!

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