This chapter explores the background of foreign occupation in Egypt and periods of non-Egyptian migration into the Nile Valley. Connections to Greece and Rome are discussed by way of artefacts (particularly pottery and terracottas) and what they can show us about the nature of military dominance, religious observance and social practices in the Graeco-Roman period.
The chapter recounts the context of acquisition of Egyptian material in Manchester in the nineteenth century within the wider context of Anglo-Egyptian relations and the 1882 British invasion of Egypt. The connection between Manchester’s role in the textile industry and cotton production and Egypt as a source of cotton plants is explored, and growing interest in Egyptology in Manchester through the 1887 Golden Jubilee Exhibition and the establishment of the Manchester Egyptian Mummy Project in the 1970s.
The use of painted wooden panel portraits on Roman Period Egyptian mummies is discussed as a significant development in the representation of the human image, one which carried specific appeal for Western collectors familiar with European painting, and which raise the challenge for a modern audience of ‘unknowing’ deep-seated preconceptions about depictions of the human form when imagining the experience of an ancient viewer. Technique and style is explored, as well as degrees of likeness to the subjects and what the portraits can tell us about their lives and Ancient Egyptian conceptions of identity. Nineteenth-century acquisitions of panel portraits are discussed, and the popularity of the portraits in travelling exhibitions and at Petrie’s annual exhibition of finds at the Egyptian Hall in London’s Piccadilly.
The chapter explores the association between Ancient Egypt and preserved objects, material wealth and the idealised body, and how these are connected to belief in an afterlife. The chapter outlines the book’s overall aim of reassessing material from 1880 and 1911 excavations at Hawara, Egypt in order to critically explore their significance in their original setting, and examine how modern (often Western) interpretations of archaeological findings might shape the past to fit a different narrative.
Golden Mummies of Egypt presents new insights and a rich perspective on beliefs about the afterlife during an era when Egypt was part of the Greek and Roman worlds (c. 300 BCE–200 CE). This beautifully illustrated book, featuring photography by Julia Thorne, accompanies Manchester Museum’s first-ever international touring exhibition. Golden Mummies of Egypt is a visually spectacular exhibition that offers visitors unparalleled access to the museum’s outstanding collection of Egyptian and Sudanese objects – one of the largest in the UK.
The site of Hawara is described, including details of the royal pyramid complex built by King Amenemhat III, and the nearby labyrinth and cemetery. Flinders Petrie’s fieldwork at Hawara is discussed, including his priorities in digging, and his approach to cataloguing and transporting the artefacts that were excavated.
Mummified human remains are synonymous with Ancient Egypt and with Manchester Egyptology, and they provide an unparalleled body of evidence through which to investigate life and death in the past. The ethics and practicalities of different methods of studying mummies is explored, including X-rays, endoscopic examination, CT scans, and the history of public ‘unwrappings’. The rapidly advancing and continually evolving technology of digital imagery, including the latest generation ‘Dual Energy’ scanners, and increased access to clinical facilities through collaboration with the NHS in Manchester, continues to revolutionise and refine non-destructive methods of study at Manchester Museum, greatly adding to our understanding of life and death in Ancient Egypt.
The survival of many thousands of fragments of papyri mean that we have extensive knowledge of life in Ancient Egypt, including information about the everyday lives of citizens as well as details of major events and royal or military leaders. Papyrology as a discipline is discussed, including illegal excavation and the appropriation of historic artefacts such as papyrus fragments, and the importance of responsible practices and ethical papyrology now and in the future.
Fascination with Egyptian mummies continues to endure, linked no doubt to their recurring presence in popular culture, which in turn prompts a focus on mummified human remains in museums. This chapter consider the basic polarities in attitudes to mummies – from rapture to revulsion – and considers the idea that each encounter can represent a contradictory response to, and appropriation of, Pharaonic funerary culture. Perhaps the most enduring ‘discovery’ is that the historic and pervasive longing to know the people behind the images and funerary objects of ancient Egypt is in fact a reflection of our own modern concern with life and death, and the fascinations and fears of what is after life.
This chapter explores funerary rites and objects of Ancient Egypt as part of the preparations for, and responses to, death. Items are discussed in terms of how they can offer insights into the social status and lifeworld of the deceased, as well as what they can tell us about belief in an afterlife and, importantly, the impact of socio-religious convention on cultural behaviour and practices, and presence of scepticism about the afterlife. The process and ritual function of mummification is explored with reference to specific figures, such as the mummy and coffin of Tasheriankh. Particular practices including embalming, use of hieroglyphic writing in religious display, iconographic themes, and the use of gold in the funerary industry are discussed at length, with reference to particular examples in Manchester Museum’s collections.