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Visiting Egyptologists and a Returning Cat Mummy

29 November 2013 by Ashley Cooke

Photo of a student with a coffin

Allison Williams with the coffin of Tamutheribes from 664 – 525 BC (no. M14047)

Besides attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year our Ancient Egypt Gallery gets visited by scholars from museums and universities around the world who want to study objects in the collection. Last week a more ‘local’ PhD student from the University of Liverpool came to our storeroom to make a close inspection of our coffins. Allison Williams is in the early stage of her career training to be an Egyptologist at Liverpool after previous study at Cambridge and Montréal. Allison is researching the artistic design on 25th and 26th Dynasty coffins (747 – 525 BC) and is visiting museums to build a data-set of coffins. The coffin in this photo belongs to Tamutheribes, daughter of Pedenehem and Shepenesi. If you look closely at the feet end of the coffin you’ll notice an image of the Apis bull, bearing the body of the deceased on his back.

Students in a gallery

A hieroglyphs class in the Ancient Egypt Gallery

With the largest teaching department of Egyptology in the world on your doorstep and you can often find Egyptologists and their students in our Ancient Egypt Gallery. Last week the new intake of 1st year BA degree Egyptology students spent an afternoon in the gallery with their teachers, Dr Roland Enmarch and Dr Glenn Godenho. It was great to see 28 students putting their newly acquired skills to use in the gallery, translating hieroglyphs carved and painted over 4000 years ago. The University of Liverpool have their own Garstang Museum of Archaeology but also have strong links with World Museum that stretches back to the foundation of the Egyptology department in 1904.

Photo of a visitor and a shabti figurine

Margaret Serpico and the shabti figurine of Djed-khonsu-iwef-ankh from 945-715 BC (no. 52.55.145)

The Museums Association conference was in Liverpool 11-12 November and  Egyptologist Dr Margaret Serpico from London’s fabulous Petrie Museum was in town to deliver a workshop about the challenges of 3D imaging programmes based on a five-year project at the Petrie Museum. Margaret visited the Ancient Egypt Gallery and was pleasantly surprised to see that we have on display a shabti figurine inscribed for a man called Djed-khonsu-iwef-ankh. The Petrie Museum has 14 of Djed-onsu-iwef-ankh’s shabtis and are investigating how they were mass-produced using moulds. Margaret is curator of virtual exhibitions and resources and with her colleagues at University College London they have been creating 3D images, generating object stories and developing apps all available as free downloads. Using cutting-edge technologies you can view the shabti of Djed-khonsu-iwef-ankh in 3D and turn him round to see how his wig is tied with a ‘seshed’ headband and the large basket he is carrying on his back. We have many objects from Flinders Petrie’s excavations in World Museum so these apps are relevant to our collections too and well worth a look even if you aren’t an Egyptophile!

Photo of limestone canopic jar

Returned home: a limestone canopic jar from 747 – 332 BC. Nos. 1973.2.342 & 1973.4.212a

More recent ‘visitors’ to the museum were actual objects from the ancient Egyptian collection returning home after a UK tour, as part of an art exhibition curated by Turner prize-winning artist Mark Leckey. Sometimes unpacking cases can be enjoyable, even if you know what is packed inside. In one crate was a canopic jar with a lid in the form of Hapy, the baboon-headed minor god who protected the lungs of the deceased in ancient Egypt. It and a mummified cat were part of the ‘The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things’ exhibition and made a thought provoking addition within a contemporary art setting.

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