Saturday, 17 November 2012

Exploring Ancient Egypt (in Oxford)

This post relates to an excellent visit to Oxford last Saturday (10 November), organised by the Egypt Exploration Society (EES). It was an early start and a full day but I met many interesting people and got to indulge my passion for Egyptology.

The first stop on my group's itinerary was the Pitt Rivers Museum. Dr Alice Stevenson, a Researcher of World Archaeology at the Museum, gave us an interesting talk about the origins of the collection and the man behind it, Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers. We then had some time to explore the Museum - I defy anyone not to be enchanted by this weird and wonderful collection of objects from every corner of the globe. You enter the Pitt Rivers through the Natural History Museum (another of my passions) and I couldn't resist spending a few minutes checking out the dinosaurs. I'm now keen to bring my niece and nephew on a trip here! Anyway, when you're next in Oxford, this place is well worth visiting. If you're not able to get to Oxford anytime soon, or fancy a sneak preview, virtual collections are available.

After the wonderful chaos of Pitt Rivers, we then visited the more ordered Ashmolean Museum. I'd been meaning to visit here ever since its refurbishment some three years ago but it was well worth the wait. Liam McNamara, the Assistant Keeper of the Ancient Egypt & Sudan collections, gave us a highly enthusiastic tour of the fascinating new galleries of Ancient Egypt & Nubia, which only opened about a year ago.

After lunch, we visited the Griffith Institute, located in the Sackler Library. Elizabeth Fleming and Cat Warsi, Assistants to the Keeper of the Archive and to the Editor of the Topographical Bibliography) showed us some treasures from their Howard Carter collection of materials. These include some magnificent drawings by Howard Carter, as well as his diaries, which include the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb.

Many thanks to everyone who was involved in making this such an excellent day!

If you're reading this and are interested in Ancient Egypt, no matter where you are in the world, I strongly encourage you to become a member of the EES (would also make an excellent Christmas present!).

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