See you in the New Year!

Just to let you all know, the museum will be closed to the public for the next two weeks due to the Christmas break. We will be back open every Wednesday from 7th January.

We’ve had an absolutely fantastic year so thanks to everyone who helped us designing displays, researching our collections and of course to all of those who have visited the museum!!

See you in the New Year!

Ancient Egypt in Focus: The photographic Archives of John Garstang

John Garstang was one the early pioneers in the use of photography as a method of recording archaeological excavations, artefacts and surveys. The museum’s photographic archive contains almost twenty collections of glass-plate negatives relating to Garstang’s archaeological research in Egypt, Sudan and the Near East. These photographs give an insight not only into how excavations were carried out during the early part of the twentieth century but also record now lost artefacts and sites, as well as showing us a little of what life was like for Garstang and his teams.

The Pilgrim Trust funded ‘Ancient Egypt in Focus’ project aims to catalogue and digitise a portion of the photographic collections held by the Garstang Museum, specifically, those relating to John Garstang’s excavations in Egypt and Sudan at the sites of Meroë, Abydos, and Beni Hasan. This process will ensure the preservation of these images, they will also be published online on the Archives Hub so that others may also view these images.

Image of the excavated portico discovered during excavations of Sakçagözü, Turkey, 1908, Reference: SG-044

Image of the excavated portico discovered during excavations of Sakçagözü, Turkey, 1908, Reference: SG-044

In 2011, the Hertitage Lottery Funded ‘The Lost Gallery: John Garstang and the discovery of the Hittite World’ project processed the Museum’s photographic collections relating to Garstang’s work in the Near East, including the excavation of Sakçagözü, Turkey. The negatives were digitized using a digital camera suspended above an adjustable platform from which the negatives could be illuminated by a light box below.  The equipment was fully adjustable to cater for different size and formats of negatives. In six months the project processed nearly 900 images. For the digitisation of the Egyptian and Sudanese negatives, the project will last for fifteen months, allowing for an even greater number of negatives to be processed, indeed, the new project hopes to process over 2000 images!

Interns using the digitization equipment during the Hittite project

Interns using the digitization equipment during the Hittite project

It is early days in the project but we will be making frequent updates about our progress here on the blog and on our facebook page

For more information about the project please contact the project archivist, Katie Waring ( kdw@liverpool.ac.uk)

Links

Archives Hub     http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/

‘The Lost Gallery: John Garstang and the discovery of the Hittite World’ project     http://sace.liv.ac.uk/lostgallery/

What do James II and Mark Antony have in common?

Mark Antony and King James II

Mark Antony and King James II

What does James II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, son of Charles I (AD 1633-1701) have in common with Marcus Antonius, Roman politician, general and triumvir (83-30 BC)?

Sadly, Richard Burton never took on the role of James II, nor did Marlon Brando! The answer is actually warfare: both men had their share of tribulation: James was deposed and exiled to France after his defeat in the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, while Mark Antony was defeated at the Battle of Actium by his former ally Octavian. They also shared a common problem, how do you pay your soldiers?

Minting coins in the Roman Republic

Bronze statue of James II dressed as a Roman General

Bronze statue of James II dressed as a Roman General

Whilst we are used to the government of a country minting coins for its citizens, this has not always been the case. At various times throughout history private individuals were able to mint their own coinage. This person is known as the moneyer. This practice was particularly prevalent during the Roman Republic, as prominent individuals sought to have their message spread in the community. It also offered them control of their own money supply. Mark Antony was one of these moneyers. While on campaign in what would become the Eastern Empire, he needed to ensure that he would have enough currency to pay his soldiers their monthly salary. In order to do so, he brought a mint with him, so he could make coins as needed. The coins which bear his name and imagery have been found across Europe and North Africa, demonstrating the size and reach of his armies. There is also evidence that the silver denarii he minted were in circulation for a long time after his death in 30BC.

These silver coins are most easily identified by the depiction of a galley on one side and a legionary standard on the other. Here at the Garstang Museum we have four of Mark Antony’s denarii, dating from 32-31BC. Each of the coins is inscribed with the name of the legion which the money was minted for:

Silver denarius minted by Mark Antony with the Galley motif

Silver denarius minted by Mark Antony with the Galley motif

CC.373 Legio III “Cyrenaica” (Cyrene)

CC.374 Legio IV “Scythica” (Scythia)

CC.375 Legio V “Gallica” (Gaul)

and CC.376 Legio XVII
The name of this last legion is unknown. However, we do know that the legion was raised by Octavian, later the Emperor Augustus. In this case Mark Antony was minting money for the soldiers of his enemy! This suggests that Antony believed he would win the war, and by minting money for this legion would be able to pay them when they crossed to his side.

Gun money

During the Jacobite/Williamite War in Ireland (1689-1691) James II also needed to pay his forces. The token-coins which made up this payment were minted in Dublin and later in Limerick using base metals, such as copper, brass or pewter. The idea behind these token-coins was that following a Jacobite victory they could be redeemed for silver coinage – though this never happened as James was decisively defeated at the Battle of the Boyne. The name “gun money” comes from the story that these coins were minted using metals from melted down cannons, though records suggest that church bells and pans were also used to mint these coins.  Additionally, the coins often included the month of issue on the reverse side. This was included so that the soldiers could claim back their wages to the date given.

Large half-crown dated to 1690 (MC.118)

Large half-crown dated to 1690 (MC.118)

Small half-crown of James II dating to February 1689 (MC.105)

Small half-crown of James II dating to February 1689 (MC.105)

Despite their stalwart financial efforts both James II and Mark Antony were ultimately on the wrong side at the end of their respective wars!

 

Object in focus: A fragment of a “dummy” funerary vessel (E.586)

Whilst working in the museum stores, we often come across objects that have suffered from the effects of time, wear and tear. This is the case with object E.586, a broken piece of limestone with a polished, curved surface inscribed with two lines of hieroglyphs.

E.586 front view

E.586 front view

We came across this object, and many others during  the museum redevelopment project. At first sight, it was assumed to be part of a statue. However, one of our volunteers (who is a ceramic specialist) noted two slight breaks in the curve above and below the hieroglyphs, this led him to suspect that this was in fact a dummy funerary vessel.

After a little research, a number of similarities between this fragment and a type of dummy funerary stone vessel popular during the 18th Dynasty  became clear.  These dummy vessels had the outward appearance of popular shapes, but were not hollowed out. This type of object has been found in several high-ranking Theban tombs, such as the one belonging to Tutankhamun’s grandparents, Thuya and Yuya.  . Without the complex and time-consuming effort of hollowing out these stone vessels, they were much quicker, cheaper and easier to produce, they functioned as magical stand-ins for the real thing.

The inscription on E.586 identifies the owner of the vessel as “The Overseer of the Fields of Amun, the Osiris, Nebseny”. During the 18th Dynasty the title “Overseer of the Fields of Amun” was held exclusively by very high-ranking officials associated with the Karnak Temple. One particularly famous holder of this office was the 18th Dynasty official Senenmut who lived during the reign of Hatshepsut.

Reconstructed side view E.586

Reconstructed side view E.586

Image copyright of the Griffith Institute

Image copyright of the Griffith Institute

Curiously, E.586 is not the only museum object to mention Nebseny. A funerary cone in the British Museum (EA62848) contains an inscription for “The Overseer of the Fields of Amun, the Accounting Scribe of All Supplies in Upper and Lower Egypt and The Overseer of the Cultivators of Amun, Nebseny, the Justified”. EA62848 was gifted to the British Museum by Egyptologist Norman de Garis Davies in 1930. Davies had received the funerary cone from Sir Robert Mond, who found the object during his excavations near the tomb of Ramose (TT55) in 1903-1904. Robert Mond also has close links to the University of Liverpool and to John Garstang, having been associated with the Institute of Archaeology in its formative years.

Unlike funerary cones (which were displayed outside tombs), the dummy vessels were part of the burial equipment and would have been placed inside the tomb shaft itself. Mond does not report discovering any tomb belonging to Nebseny, it seems  likely that the heavily broken E.586 was damaged as the tomb was looted, only to be discarded in the vicinity of the tomb. The tomb of Nebseny,  remains undiscovered.

 

The Texts of the Coffin of Userhat (E.512)

One of our most prized and most viewed objects is the box-coffin of Userhat (E.512). The coffin was excavated by John Garstang in 1902 and was one of the first objects on display in the museum of the Institute of Archaeology in 1904. The text inscribed upon the coffin tells us that Userhat was a soldier He lived during a period Egyptologists call the Middle Kingdom (c. 1991-1783BC).

The Inner coffin of Userhat (E.88.1903) kept at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge

The Inner coffin of Userhat (E.88.1903) kept at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge

When Userhat died, he was mummified and interred in an anthropoid (human-shaped) coffin, which was then placed inside the box coffin. Userhat’s inner coffin was donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge by the Beni Hasan Excavation Committee in 1903, where it is kept today (E.88.1903).

http://webapps.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/explorer/index.php?qu=E.88.1903&oid=50697

As Garstang was a pioneer in the use of photography within archaeology we are also able to see the coffin as it was first discovered, with the inner coffin laying on its side, with the face of the coffin looking out of the painted eyes upon the outside of the box coffin . The rest of the tomb merely contained a few pieces of pottery.

The coffins of Userhat in situ

The coffins of Userhat in situ

The texts which adorn the coffin are dedicated to a number of funerary deities, such as Osiris, Anubis, Isis and Nepthys. Most of these texts are highly standardised, with only a few alterations made in each register. The texts translated here are the first inscriptions that would have been seen by Garstang, they are from the head end of the coffin and refer to “the revered one” (i.e. deceased) Userhat in reference to specific deities.

TEXT IN TRANSLATION

Userhat Text

Top: Revered one before Nepthys, the Soldier Userhat

The image in the centre of this panel is of the goddess Nepthys, whilst the goddess Isis strikes a similar pose at the foot end of the coffin.

Left column: Revered one before the Great Ennead, the Soldier Userhat

Right Column: Revered one before the Lesser Ennead, the Soldier User(hat)       

An Ennead (pesdjet in Egyptian) is a grouping of nine-god. Some of these groups are more important than others, hence the “Great” and the “Lesser” Enneads.

It seems that the painter of this coffin had not planned the size of the text out fully before applying the paint as despite requiring the same amount of space and signs, they ran out of space  for Userhat’s  name, cutting off the lower parts of these signs.

Detail from the Coffin of Userhat as it stands on display in our galleries

Detail from the Coffin of Userhat as it stands on display in our galleries

Come and see the Coffin of Userhat in our Egyptian Afterlife Gallery, we are open to the public every Wednesday from 10 ’til 4 and are completely FREE!

 

Object Biography: Meet ‘Felix’ one of our mummified cats

E.5425 a.k.a. 'Felix'

E.5425 a.k.a. ‘Felix’

This is ‘Felix’ one of our mummified cats, or more officially E.5425. Felix often goes with us on outreach activities though he is fairly quiet and doesn’t really eat much even when on the road! Really we should probably call him a more Egyptian name such as ‘Ta-miu’ (literally ‘the girl cat’, think meow), which is the name of the pet cat of a Prince Thutmose, but Felix rather stuck.

However, Felix was not buried in such a lofty location as the Valley of the Kings, in fact we are unsure of where he was originally buried. Instead, we know where he spent a portion of the 20th century- in an attic. On Thursday 12th November 1992, workmen were clearing the loft areas of one of the university buildings not too far from where the museum stands today; as they cleared the space they found some ancient pottery, basketry, mummified pieces and Felix. The building they were clearing, 11 Abercromby Square, had been part of the Institute of Archaeology before the 1940s and it appears that these objects were placed under the eaves for safe keeping and forgotten about for fifty years! An unusual find, but only last year another mummified cat was found lurking in an attic: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2278585/B-B-owner-finds-stuffed-cat-hidden-attic-2-000-year-old-EGYPTIAN-MUMMY.html (although the daily mail suggests that it was a mummified pet- keep reading and we will let you decide whether this is correct).

Scarcophagus of ‘Tamiu’, the pet cat of Prince Thutmose ©Madam Rafaèle

Scarcophagus of ‘Tamiu’, the pet cat of Prince Thutmose ©Madam Rafaèle

Why mummify a cat?

There are two reasons to mummify a cat, the first of these is to provide a pet with a caring burial (like Tamiu), and the second, more common reason is for ritual purposes. A number of animals including cats were mummified to serve as ritual offerings to the gods. Felix is probably one of these offerings. Cats were often offered to the cat-headed goddess Bastet as votives, with the practice of mummifying animals peaking in the 1st Millenium BC.  Huge numbers of animals were often stored on mass in underground galleries. As this was done on such a large scale, most of the mummified cats which were offered as votives were kittens, this was so that the temple could continue to produce these votives without spending unnecessary time raising an adult cat.

 

Wholesale cat mummies for fur-tiliser

Cartoon from "Punch" (15th February 1890)  showing a grizzly result of using the mummified cat fertiliser

Cartoon from “Punch” (15th February 1890) showing a grizzly result of using the mummified cat fertiliser

Liverpool also has an unusual link with mummified cats, on 10th February 1890, 19.5 tons of mummified cats (approx. 18,000). Found by accident in 1889 in Speos Artemidos, this large shipment was auctioned off in Liverpool and caused quite a stir in the media. The reports of the sale vary but they seem to agree that the cats were sold off wholesale when they had disintegrated (for use as fertiliser), with the more well preserved cats being sold whole or just as heads/bodies. There are even reports of the auctioneer using the skull of one such cat as a gavel!

For more on this, see:

http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2011/06/a-mummy-cats-tale/

http://www.strangehistory.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/egyptian-cats.pdf

 

 

The making of our Beni Hasan Mural

Our empty wall!

Our empty wall!

Ever since we began the redesign and redevelopment of our galleries here at the museum we knew we wanted to do something a little different in our Egyptian Afterlife gallery, instead of another text panel we decided to have a more artistic element in the form of a tomb mural.

Linking our idea to our collection we decided to look at images from tombs from the site of Beni Hasan at which our very own John Garstang excavated early in his career. Furthermore, one of our most beautiful and prized objects, the box coffin of Userhat (E.512) sits right in front of the mural.

The scene we settled on is from the tomb of Khnumhotep II (II because the locals of Beni Hasan during this time weren’t particularly original with their names), dating to early 12th Dynasty (1985-1773BC) the scenes which decorate this tomb are complex and beautiful, showing elegant variations on what are often seen as classical themes. We started with a 20th Century line drawing of the chosen scene published by Percy Newberry (who also had long standing Liverpool links), we passed this over to our talented mural artist Matthew a.k.a. Monsieur Mural (https://www.facebook.com/MonsieurMural?fref=ts) and he blew it up to the size required. Throughout the process, Matt used traditional sign-writing techniques to apply the image to the wall.

STEP 1: Applying the outline of the images to chalk-backed paper, this is done by tracing the elements onto the paper after applying soft pencil to the reverse.

The outline of one of the hieroglyphs through the soft pencil.

The outline of one of the hieroglyphs through the soft pencil.

The full-sized outline, ready for the wall.

The full-sized outline, ready for the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 2: Pouncing the image onto the wall. This is a traditional technique of applying chalk lines to the surface. When completed it leaves a rather ghost like version of the scene.

Matt pouncing the image.

Matt pouncing the image.

Khnumhotep as a chalk figure.

Khnumhotep as a chalk figure.

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3: Once the chalk lines were up on the wall, Matt started the longest part of the process, the painting. It took around a day and a half to get from a blank wall to having a completed mural and a lot of this was taken up by the painting. As this is only around half life size, one can only imagine the time it would have taken to create the original piece at Beni Hasan as not only was it larger but also carved in sunken relief and finally painted in a garish array of bright colours.

10151366_569831759798161_7532070855185823638_n1424313_569832023131468_6746813553825295119_n

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

 

 

THE RESULTS:

The finished mural

The finished mural

We will be putting the students through their steps reading the text here as soon as the new academic year begins!

Photo 17-07-2014 10 55 14

 

We are open Friday and Saturday for the Festival of Ideas

festival-of-ideas-logo

As part of the University wide Festival of Ideas, we are happy to announce that we will be open to the public this coming Friday and Saturday (25th and 26th July). Opening times are 10am-6pm, we are of course FREE admission. So take the chance to view our beautiful new galleries as well as joining in with a great number of other events within the museum.

For more about the Festival of Ideas have a look at  http://www.liv.ac.uk/the-festival-of-ideas/

there’s also a programme of events and a map here http://www.liv.ac.uk/media/livacuk/the-festival-of-ideas/Festival,of,Ideas,Programme.pdf

Murals, the Museum and Bridget Riley

As we get ready for some artistic work within the museum, we have just noticed the news of Bridget Riley’s latest Egypt inspired mural in St Mary’s Hospital in London.

Inspired by the colour schemes used within a number of tombs in Luxor, Egypt, Riley began to experiment with her palette to replicate the sense of richness and light found in these underground structures. Ultimately resulting in what has been named the “Luxor Palette”.

A corridor decorated by Bridget Riley in the Royal Liverpool Hospital

A corridor decorated by Bridget Riley in the Royal Liverpool Hospital

Bridget Riley also has links with Liverpool, as during this time Riley was commissioned to decorate two corridors within the Royal Liverpool University Hospital (the decor sadly no longer survives but is shown here)- a precursor to the news which has spurred this post!

Sea Cloud (1981) by Bridget Riley Walker Art Gallery (No. 10639)

Sea Cloud (1981) by Bridget Riley
Walker Art Gallery (No. 10639)

 

Never fear though, as you are still able to view some of her work in Liverpool through “Sea Cloud” (1981, Acc. No. 10639) at The Walker Art Gallery. The Walker collection also has has a number of other paintings inspired by the Ancient past.

Our mural isn’t being done by Bridget though, but by the very talented Monsieur Mural -with the Garstang Museum Palette!! Work will be starting soon so keep an eye on here for progress reports and of course pictures!

For more about Bridget Riley’s latest murals see:
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/apr/07/bridget-riley-mural-st-marys-hospital-london-in-pictures

 

Object in Focus: A Meroitic Lion Statuette- E.8003

E.8003

E.8003

The object in focus this week is a small limestone statuette of a Lion from the ancient capital of Sudan, the city of Meroë (around 200km northeast of modern Khartoum). He is 14.8cm tall and was discovered by Prof. John Garstang during the 1912 season of excavations. Garstang excavated extensively at Meroë on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology between 1909 and 1914. His excavations revealed a complex layout of houses, temples and palaces built of stone and mud brick, with the remains of earlier periods being buried by later constructions as the city continued to be occupied for nearly a 1000 years. Meroë had a big impact on Garstang’s life, shown by the fact that he named his daughter after the city, which he had spent so long excavating.

The Kushite Empire was long lived and dates from between 890 BC and AD320. Whilst it was centred in the cities of Meroë and Napata, the rulers of Kush also held Egypt for around a century during the period known by Egyptologists as the Late Period. During this time a number of Kushite kings, such as Piye (Piankhy), Shabaqa and Taharqa also ruled over the Nile Valley as the 25th Dynasty of Egyptian kings. Despite losing their territory within the Egypt during the Assyrian conquest of the country, the Kingdom of Kush remained a major power in East Africa well into the early fourth century AD.

The art and culture of these kings was a fusion of the classically Egyptian and that of their native Sudan, both of these traditions living side by side. The golden age of the Kushite rulers within Egypt is often focused on the reign of Taharqa, who rebuilt temples within the Nile valley and attempted to extend the borders of his kingdom north of the Sinai. However, it was not to be, and the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal eventually expelled these rulers from the Egyptian Nile valley. Taharqa also produced one of the best known objects from this time, a sphinx in the British Museum which clearly shows the fusing of Egyptian and Kushite artistic traditions.

taharqa

BM EA 1770 -The Sphinx of Taharqa (Trustees of the British Museum)

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/s/sphinx_of_taharqo.aspx

Whilst the mythical sphinx is not unusual within Ancient Egypt, after all there is an exceptionally large example hewn into the Giza plateau itself, the lion also held a special significance within the Meroitic culture for a number of reasons. In fact, lions are a recurrent element found in the artefacts of this culture. As such, this statuette is only one of many leonine artefacts within our collection.

One of the primary functions of the lion was as a marker of royal authority, often shown devouring captives, or in this case seated regally.  The lion headed god Apedemak was worshipped as “the Lord of Royal power” in his temple at Naqa (south of Meroë). One famous relief in this temple shows a three-headed, four-armed Apedemak being adored by Queen Amanitore and King Natakamani.

DSCF1797

In addition to this, lions were also hunted, along with rhinoceroses. This dangerous game hunting was a sign of the power of the individual. The burial of animals with the Kings of Kush is well attested- with the first King buried at the site of el-Kurru, King Kashta, with a number of chariot horses. In this tradition, there is also evidence for the burial of three young lions at Sanam- though why this was done is unclear.This statuette will be displayed in our new galleries in 2014 with a range of Ancient Sudanese material from Gartang’s excavations. He will be joined by a whole pride of lions both small and large!