Friday, July 17, 2020

Egypt Centre Collection Blog: Every Ending has a New Beginning

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Every Ending has a New Beginning

The past four months has been life changing for most people, including all of us at the Egypt Centre. With the Museum closing in mid-March, our main sources of income (shop sales, school visits, and events) have been affected massively. Like most museums, we have been working hard trying to find new ways of engaging with our visitors while also raising funds for the Egypt Centre. Just under three months ago, I started an online Egypt Centre support fund in the effort to raise £5,000. At the time of writing, I am delighted to say that we have smashed this target by raising £8,585! We are most grateful to everyone who has contributed to this fund so far (fig. 1). There are still three days remaining, so if you would like to support the Egypt Centre during these difficult times, you can still do so via the following link!

Fig. 1: Egypt Centre support fund

As has been noted previously on this blog, our Wonderful Things conference planned for late May was moved to a virtual format, with the final lecture of this series taking place on Friday. I must admit, I was quite apprehensive at first about moving it online, but it has proven to have been tremendously successful and has certainly raised the profile of the Egypt Centre. Over the past few months we have hosted seventeen lectures, all of which revolved around the Egypt Centre collection. The lectures have highlighted the diversity of the collection, with many unique objects showcased. The Egypt Centre is very proud of providing a platform for both established professionals and students, from Egyptologists to conservators. In total, 2,691 people attended the live sessions making this a truly international event (attendees from six continents). Sixteen of the lectures were recorded and have been added to our YouTube channel, drawing an additional audience of 3,907 people. We are grateful to all the speakers who have offered their time and expertise on the collection! Thanks also to Sam Powell, an Egypt Centre volunteer and Egyptology Masters student, for co-hosting these lectures. We are also very grateful to the Mehen Study Centre for Ancient Egypt who sponsored these online lectures (fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Mehen Study Centre for Ancient Egypt 

Despite the virtual conference concluding, our online engagement continues. On Friday of this week, the Egypt Centre will be hosting its first virtual quiz. For the most part, questions will focus on the conference, although there will be general Egyptological questions mixed in. To raise funds for the Egypt Centre there is a £2 charge per household, with tickets available here. Yesterday I started my new short course on Ancient Egyptian Religion, which follows on from the well-received Funerary Artefacts of the Ancient Egyptians. As much as possible the course will highlight relevant objects in the Egypt Centre collection. This course takes place of Sunday evenings and is repeated on Wednesday mornings. Therefore, there is still the opportunity for people to sign up for this course via the following link. As with the previous course, I'll be inviting attendees to write the blog posts from their own perspective. This course fulfils one of the Egypt Centre's core aims of widening participation.  
Fig. 3: Copper alloy votive statue of Osiris (W85)

While we will continue to offer free online Zoom lectures (details to follow), financial pressures mean that we will also be hosting a series of fundraising lectures. These lectures will take place once a month, with details to be announced in advance of each talk. I'm delighted to announce that the first lecture will be delivered by Dr Ramadan Hussein (Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen), the director of the Saqqara Saite Tombs Project (fig. 4). The project was launched in 2016 as a second round of excavation, documentation, conservation, and publication of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty tombs clustered around the pyramid of King Wenis. During the mapping of the site, the project's team made significant archaeological discoveries. Many readers will have followed the amazing work of the project via the four-part National Geographic channel recent documentary Kingdom of the Mummies. Discoveries include the first and only example of six canopic jars for one person, the first silver mask found in Egypt in more than half a century, and evidence of a mummification workshop. This promises to be a fantastic lecture, so please join us and support the Egypt Centre. Full details and tickets for the event can be found via the following link.

Fig. 4: Egypt Centre fundraising lecture

Another major development to enhance our online presence is the creation of a new online catalogue. We recently received funding from the Swansea University Alumni's Greatest Need Fund, for which we are extremely grateful. The current online catalogue was launched in 2005 with limited search capabilities. The new online collection catalogue, which has been in development for the past year, has been designed specifically with the Egypt Centre in mind. Sam Powell, as a student at Swansea University and volunteer at the Egypt Centre, used her experience of working with the collection to design a bespoke new platform, which will allow the collection to be appreciated virtually. Through working closely with the Egypt Centre staff, the online catalogue has been honed to ensure that the user experience is as intuitive as possible, and meeting the needs of a diverse collection. Further data cleaning, new entry fields, and other modifications will continue to be made (figs 5–8). The planned launch of the catalogue is the beginning of October to coincide with the beginning of the academic year. Stay tuned for more details in a future blog post!

Fig. 5: New catalogue entry for W491 (1 of 4)

Fig. 6: New catalogue entry for W491 (2 of 4)

Fig. 7: New catalogue entry for W491 (3 of 4)

Fig. 8: New catalogue entry for W491 (4 of 4)

--   Sent from my Linux system.

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