About this object

Redware pottery offering table in the form of a so-called 'soul house' which belongs to a type of pottery funerary artefact associated with shaft tombs at Rifa and some other sites. Roughly horseshoe form with a walled courtyard. On the left side of the courtyard is a model of a quern with grinding stone, and a pestle and mortar, or a tall container with stirrer of the type used to prepare beer. Running down the centre of the courtyard are two channels that divide the courtyard in half and terminate at the entrance to the courtyard - this forms a spout for liquid offerings to drain away when poured onto the 'soul-house'. At the back of the courtyard, on either side of these grooves are two short grooves that may crudely represent tanks. At the back is a roofed structure with two open doors in a wall with six engaged columns which appear to be set upon round column bases. On the right side stairs lead to the roof which is divided in two by a low wall, with one side containing four round features which may represent granaries or mulqaf (wind-catchers). There is some damage to the wall at the front of the roof which may have been much taller and perhaps columned.

In September 1907 the museum received five soul-houses and three soul-house fragments from the British School of Archaeology in Egypt. One was exchanged with Otago University Museum and all the others were destroyed in May 1941 when the Museum was bombed. Between 24.3.1999 and 7.6 2017 it was assumed this was the only surviving soul-house from this group. However, is not marked with an accession number and does not match with any of the descriptions of those acquired in 1907 from Petrie’s excavations at Rifa. Through archive research the source of the object has been traced to the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, donated to World Museum, Liverpool, in 1971. It was purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome at Foster’s auction house, 28 June 1920, lot 963d (ex collection of Margaret Tyssen-Amherst, no. 2346).

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Middle Kingdom
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date made
    2055 BC - 1650 BC (Dynasty 11) about
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection
  • Collector
    Margaret Susan Tyssen-Amherst
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date collected
    1864 before
  • Measurements
    160 mm x 348 mm x 460 mm
  • Related people
    Margaret Susan Tyssen-Amherst ( Collector, previous owner); Wellcome Historical Medical Museum ( Previous owner); Henry Solomon Wellcome ( Previous owner)
  • Related documents/media

Explore related


  • Egyptian Treasures in Europe volume 4: National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool

    Andrea Davies; Dirk van der Plas (ed)

    Author: Andrea Davies; Dirk van der Plas (ed)
    Publisher: Utrecht University
    Date: 2001
    Description: CD ROM with 1500 objects from World Museum's Egyptian collection, including some destroyed in World War Two. This is now available online: http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/default.aspx

  • Gifts of The Nile: Ancient Egyptian Arts and Crafts in Liverpool Museum

    Bienkowski, Piotr; Tooley, Angela

    Author: Bienkowski, Piotr; Tooley, Angela
    Publisher: Her Majesty's Stationery Office
    Date: 1995
    Description: A 130 page illustrated book that focuses on the Egyptian antiquities in World Museum's collections to provide a colourful introduction to the land and its culture in the Pharaonic period. An appendix explains the history of the collection and includes information about the Lady Lever Art Gallery Egyptian collection, which is also part of National Museums Liverpool.


Previous owners

Object view = Humanities
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