Glitz and Glamour at the Garstang

The ancient Egyptians were mad about bling so it is not surprising that we have a vast collection of ancient jewellery at the Garstang Museum of Archaeology .

In Ancient Egypt, women and men wore jewellery as a mark of status and beauty during life and death. The ancient Egyptians desired to ‘go out in style’, much of the ancient Egyptian jewellery that survives today was found in tombs.

A stunning array of colours and materials were chosen specifically for their aesthetic qualities and symbolism. Precious stones such as lapis lazuli, carnelian, turquoise, amethyst and amber were especially prestigious, while cheaper jewellery was made in faience. Silver and gold were also admired. Silver was particularly rare in Egypt, and often more desirable than gold.

Although jewellery was mainly used to ‘show off’, the Ancient Egyptians did weave protective amulets into necklaces, mummy nets and other ornaments. These would have offered the wearer some divine protection in life and death.

In more recent times, at early 20th century excavations, women were not encouraged to dig. Instead ladies would spend time performing administrative tasks, such as labelling and cataloguing finds, as well as reconstructing ancient jewellery. Marie Garstang, who was married to our very own John, spent hours piecing together strings of beads, and many of the pieces we have on display at the museum are the result of her imaginative work.

Find out more at the Garstang Museum of Archaeology, open every Wednesday 10am – 4pm.

Discover more about death in Ancient Egypt at the Book of the Dead exhibition, open until the 13th September 2017.

Natasha Whittaker & Bethany Dale

Death in Ancient Egypt: The Book of the Dead.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that life continued after death, the deceased could live out eternity in the Field of Reeds, a perfect version of Egypt itself.

However, to get to the Field of Reeds, the dead had to make the treacherous journey through the Underworld. The path through the Underworld was blocked by gates and caverns as well as guardians and demons who would set tests that must be passed before the dead were allowed to journey on.

To aid this perilous journey, the Ancient Egyptians wrote “Books of the Afterlife” that contained spells and maps to guide the dead through the Underworld. Examples include the Book of the Dead, the Book of Caverns, and the Book of Gates.

The Ancient Egyptians also hoped that these spells might prevent a person from dying a “second death”, from which there was no return. At the end of their journey, the Dead were judged in the presence of Osiris, god of the Underworld. The deceased would claim that they were not guilty of any crimes, and hoped that their heart would not betray them when weighed.

Anubis would weigh the heart against the feather of Ma’at, representing balance and truth. If the heart was heavier than the feather, it would be devoured by Ammut and the deceased would die a second death.

If you passed you could go on to the Field of Reeds. You could even come forth by day and visit relatives in the Book of the Dead.

This general overview covers a few certain aspects of death in Ancient Egypt. There are millennia to cover and vast array of different beliefs. Learn more, and see if you will pass the test to join the Afterlife, at the Book of the Dead exhibition… If you dare.

Book of the Dead: Passport through the Underworld, 19th May 2017-13th September 2012, Wednesdays 10am – 4pm. Open for Light Night 19th May, 5pm-Late.

Lauren Hill.

Image: Book of the Dead Papyrus depicting Ammut, photographed by Julia Thorne.