Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Treasure trove reveals how the ancient Egyptians really lived | Events & Attractions | Going Out | London Evening Standard

Treasure trove reveals how the ancient Egyptians really lived

A new exhibition, called Beyond Beauty, will reveal a side of the ancient civilisation rarely portrayed in popular culture

A treasure trove of artefacts is to give an insight into the day-to-day life of ordinary ancient Egyptians.

Items such as jewellery, perfume bottles and funeral masks are going on display at a new London exhibition at Two Temple Place to reveal a side of the ancient civilisation rarely portrayed in popular culture.

Many of the exhibits were excavated by pioneering archaeologists and brought back to Britain in the early 20th century. Discoveries such as the tomb of Tutankhamun sparked a worldwide fascination with ancient Egypt, which continued with films such as The Mummy.

Assistant curator Heba Abd El Gawad said the exhibition, called Beyond Beauty, will also show the importance of body image in the culture.  She said: "One of my favourite objects in the exhibition is the mummy mask that we know belonged to a Roman citizen who was living in Egypt around the first and second century. 

"He was a Roman citizen but he chose to be remembered and buried as an Egyptian, which shows how cultures and identities were less firmly fixed than sometimes they are now." The exhibition includes personal belongings found in tombs and an exploration of the process of mummification.

Egyptologist Dr Margaret Serpico has curated the show, at Two Temple Place. She said it was a chance to see some objects held by museums around the UK that are rarely on public display. "The desire to unveil the fabulous objects held in these museums was born out of a long-term project to raise awareness of some of the 200 ancient Egyptian collections in the UK, many in regional museums," she added. 

"I have always been amazed by the many wonderful artefacts in these collections, objects that I wished could be seen by wider audiences. This exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate these collections and appreciate how important it is that we preserve them."

The future of local museum collections came under the spotlight in 2014 when Northampton council sold an Egyptian statue for almost £16 million. Last year the Government placed an export ban on the piece to give campaigners time to raise funds to keep it in the UK.

The exhibition will be formally opened by the Egyptian ambassador on January 28 and is open to the public from January 30 to April 24.

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