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

 

Advertisements

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!