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Egyptomania in perth


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Egyptomania in perth

  1. 1. Egyptomania in Perth These objects are a small sample from the Egyptian collection of Perth Museum. They reflect the collecting of all things Egyptian, known as 'Egyptomania', that was hugely popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The bulk of the Perth collection was acquired in this way, by antiquarian and amateur collectors who sent or brought back items from Egypt. Some appear to have been acquired first hand from excavations in the Valley of the Kings, Thebes, for example, whilst others were acquired secondhand via dealers in Cairo.
  2. 2. Mummified hand Once robbed from a tomb some mummies were cut up and the pieces sold or otherwise traded into the antiquities market. This example comes from a tomb in Saqqara and has a protective amulet exposed within the layers of bandage. The hand has been separated at the metacarpal/wrist joint. Radiography confirmed preservation of soft tissues, ligaments and muscles overlying the bone.
  3. 3. Mummified Birds and Animals Ibis Ancient Egyptians believed animals and birds could also go into the afterlife. This had two aspects. One was the desire to play with pets in the afterlife, which meant cats and dogs were mummified alongside their owners. The other was the practice of animal cults in which the spirit of a particular deity was believed to reside in an animal. When the animal died it was mummified and a new live animal selected. Huge numbers of animal mummies have been found, including millions of ibises at Saqqara alone, so many that it is possible that the Egyptians bred them specifically as offerings and that they were kept in sacred colonies. This example is presented as an ibis. Birds were sometimes kept as pets but the ibis was believed to represent the god Thoth. Radiography of this bundle revealed no material in good enough condition to confirm the ibis identification proclaimed on the wrapping. There are lots of small bones and feather elements combined with mud suggesting that this was a using up of left over bits from other mummifications. It was clearly re-packaged in the mid-nineteenth century to appeal to collectors and tourists. It may have been found at Saqqara. It was donated by Dr Henderson.
  4. 4. Canopic Jars Usually made of limestone, alabaster or ceramic, canopic jars were used to keep and preserve for the afterlife the internal organs of the deceased, removed as part of the mummification process. They went out of use around the middle of the first century BC, from when the organs were simply wrapped and place with the mummy. The jars came in sets of four, one each for the stomach, the intestines, the lungs and the liver. As the seat of the soul the heart was left inside the mummified body. At various times the lids were either plain or shaped like the face of the deceased, the head of Anubis or the four sons of Horus. The lid on the jar at the back for example is the human-headed Imseti, guardian of the liver and himself protected by Isis. The jar and lid are genuine but the inscription on the body of the jar is a fake. It was probably added in the 19th century to associate the jar with Hrihor, High Priest of Karnak, who died in 1065 BC. The painted pottery lid depicts Horus's jackal-headed son Duamutef, protector of the stomach and protected by the goddess
  5. 5. Ushabtis Small funerary figures that could be made of wood, stone, ceramic or faience. They were produced in huge numbers and along with scarabs are the most numerous of surviving ancient Egyptian antiquities. Their purpose was to be a substitute for the deceased in the event of the deceased being required to do manual labour in the afterlife. Often they carry an agricultural hoe and a basket. They were generally placed in the tomb amongst the grave goods - sometimes covering the floor around a sarcophagus - but were sometimes wrapped in the bandages of a mummy.
  6. 6. Wall fragment with inscription The more elaborate tombs in which the mummies and their grave good were placed were often richly decorated. This fragment of decorated walling comes from a tomb in Thebes .The hieroglyphic inscription is so partial that it cannot be meaningfully translated. The white background was common for tomb decoration around 1500-1000 BC.
  7. 7. AMULETS Amulets were worn by the living and the dead in ancient Egypt. Some protected the wearer from danger and others gave the wearer special attributes such as strength. They were generally made in the shape of animals, plants, sacred objects or hieroglyphic symbols. Different combinations of shape, material and colour determined the effectiveness of a particular amulet
  8. 8. Scarab beetle amulets The scarab beetle was an important amulet type from around 2,600BC onwards. The real beetle lays its eggs in dung and then pushes the ball of dung before it wherever it goes. When the young beetles hatch they appear to do so miraculously from the dung. Thus to the ancient Egyptians the scarab beetle was a symbol of rebirth and represents the god Khepri, who was thought to push the sun disc through the morning sky, as a scarab beetle pushes its ball of dung. Initially scarab amulets were used as protective seals in life and later their use was extended to funerary rites. The heart scarab was placed over the heart of the mummy to prevent the heart from speaking out against the deceased.
  9. 9. Hare amulet The ancient Egyptians associated the hare with alertness and watchfulness and so with the protective goddess Wienut. Hare amulets were made of made of many materials including gold and ivory. This example is made of porcelain. Hare amulets were worn to give their wearers swiftness and alertness so as to escape all dangers. They also worked as fertility charms
  10. 10. All-seeing eye amulet One of the most widely worn protective amulets was the wedjat eye: the restored eye of Horus. It was worn by the living, and often appeared on rings and as an element of necklaces. It was also placed on the body of the deceased during the mummification process to protect the incision through which the internal organs were removed. This example dates to around 700 BC and is made of faience, a special type of bluegreen ceramic.