A Mummy Mask and Goings-on in Antiquities

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photo of a painted mummy mask

An ancient Egyptian cartonnage mummy mask, about 1550 BC

It's been a good week in the Antiquities department at World Museum. An amazing object in our Egyptology collection that has long been overlooked was published by Dr Aidan Dodson of Bristol University, a Liverpool graduate who is working in the department to study and publish our coffin collection. The mask, with its tiny gold face, is a real rarity for academics and a curious object for the 10s of 1000s of visitors that see it each month. The mask was placed over the head of a mummy over 3500 years ago and is decorated with divine figures to protect the mummy. You can find out more about this mask on the World Museum Ancient Egypt Facebook page.


Developing our collections is a major part of a curators work and getting our collections published so that they can be appreciated by a wider audience is really important. We also have another specialist working with our Egyptology collections at the moment – Glenn Janes is studying shabti collections in the UK. Shabtis are funerary figurines that would work for the tomb owner in the afterlife. We have over 800 of them and so Glenn has been spending quite a lot of time in Liverpool. People like Aidan and Glenn give their free time to work with curators to help develop our collections as do volunteers in the early stages of their careers.  Two new volunteers have started working with the Egyptology and Mesopotamian collections. Dafydd Rees is a museum studies placement student from Liverpool Hope University and will be cataloguing our cuneiform collections from Mesopotamia. Mathew Exley is a recent Liverpool University MA Egyptology graduate who is helping with the digitisation of our Egyptology collections.


We had a visit this week from Dr Adela Oppenheim a curator in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Adela researches the archaeology of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC) and came to look at artefacts we have from this period. We are planning to refurbish our Ancient World gallery and on Thursday we showed John Orna-Ornstein of the British Museum around our galleries. John is head of London and National Programmes and we discussed various ways we could work in partnership with the British Museum as part of our plans to create new galleries for our antiquities collections.


For the past 2 years antiquities staff and the World Museum registrar have been working with our Near East collections purchased from Professor John Garstang in 1949. Many have not been on display since World War Two and today an exhibition opens at the Victoria Gallery and Museum at Liverpool University that features 63 artefacts, mainly from Turkey and Syria. The exhibition is called John Garstang and the Discovery of the Hittite World and features objects loaned from World Museum, our nearby neighbour http://www.liv.ac.uk/sace/garstang-museum/index.htmand the British Museum.