Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pharaoh 'nough: spooky Egyptian experiment turns heads in Cambridge | Cambridge News

Pharaoh 'nough: spooky Egyptian experiment turns heads in Cambridge

By chris elliott  |  Posted: August 11, 2016

A re-creation of an Egyptian tomb, with flickering torchlight illuminating the simulated surface of a 3,000-year-old coffin, was staged outside the Fitzwilliam Museum.

It was all part of a strange-looking after dark experiment staged by PhD student Meghan Strong, together with more than 40 volunteers.

The volunteers were asked to view panels painted with combinations of yellow pigments and varnish that would have been used on ancient Egyptian coffins, such as the coffins of Nespawershefyt, which are part of the Fitzwilliam's Egyptian antiquities collection.

Meghan said: “I wanted to see how light interacted with the coffin surfaces, because we know from representations and texts describing Egyptian funerals that artificial light would have been presented before the coffin as an offering. I was curious as to why the Egyptians would have done this – did the interaction between the pigments/varnish/light cause a particular effect?"

Also involved in the experiment were the museum's associate curator of Egyptian antiquities, Helen Strudwick, and Elsbeth Geldhof, historic paint conservator.

Meghan said: “It was a fabulous event and we couldn't have asked for a better group of volunteers. Everyone was genuinely interested in the research and played an invaluable role in the overall project. This will not only greatly inform my own research, but hopefully lead to more collaborative projects like this in the future.