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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Egypt Centre Collection Blog: Keeping Busy during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Keeping Busy during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past month, our world has been turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting all of us. While the Egypt Centre is currently closed, our work continues from the safety of our homes. In fact, some of us are probably busier than ever! The blog post for this week presents a brief report of some of our activities.

Due to the current lockdown, the Egypt Centre conference planned for May has, unsurprisingly, been cancelled. However, some of the speakers have kindly agreed to give their presentations via Zoom. Additionally, these will be supplemented by several presentations that were delivered at last year's conference and others that were not scheduled to take place at all. Rather than have them over one weekend, we have decided to host two per week. These lectures are free, although registration for each talk is required. The initial schedule is below, with subsequent presentations being added in a few weeks. All of the talks relate to the Egypt Centre artefacts (fig. 1), so why not join us in exploring the collection from the safety of your homes!

TitleIntroduction to the Egypt Centre: History and Highlights
By: Ken Griffin (The Egypt Centre)
When: Apr 30, 2020 07:00 PM London

TitleThe Life Cycle of an Object: The Lintel of the Overseer of Craftsmen, Tjenti
By: Ken Griffin (The Egypt Centre)
When: May 5, 2020 07:00 PM London

TitleAll the Words Unspoken: A Faience Flute and the Materiality of Music
By: John Rogers (Swansea University)
When: May 8, 2020 07:00 PM London

TitlePaddle Dolls in Ancient Egypt: Gaudy or Godly?
By: Megan Clark (University of Liverpool)
When: May 12, 2020 07:00 PM London

TitleAncient Egypt and Swansea Royal Institution: A Tale of a Riot; Smuggling and Egyptology
By: Carolyn Graves-Brown (The Egypt Centre)
When: May 15, 2020 07:00 PM London

TitleA Call to Arms: Discovering the Secrets of the Egypt Centre's Figures from Funerary Models
By: Sam Powell (Swansea University)
When: May 19, 2020 07:00 PM London

TitleThe Posthumous Destiny of Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu
By: Aidan Dodson (University of Bristol)
When: May 22, 2020 07:00 PM London

To book for any of these presentations, please complete the appropriate registration via the following link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Please make sure to check your junk email. Do keep in mind that for many of the speakers this technology is new, so we apologise for any glitches encountered!

Fig. 1: Sarcophagus fragment of Amenhotep son of Hapu (W1367b)

Because of the pandemic more people are turning to online resources, which may well become a permanent feature. Therefore, we are working hard to make the Egypt Centre more accessible online. Aside from the Zoom lectures mentioned above, we are working with our volunteer Sam Powell on revamping our online database, which we hope to launch in 2021. This will include more detailed information on the objects, such as acquisition history, previous owners, a bibliography, and higher resolution images (fig. 2). Eventually, we plan to have multiple images for each object, integrate virtual trails and the ability to save your favourite objects, and other features.

Fig. 2: Screenshot of an object in our new online database

Some of our volunteers have been kept busy over the past month transcribing old auction catalogues, a project that I started about a year ago. To date, 15,000 lots have been transcribed. The catalogues mainly date between 1900–1936, during which time Sir Henry Wellcome purchased tens of thousands of objects. Since the majority of our objects originate from the Wellcome collection, these catalogues are often invaluable for tracing their histories. This is particularly the case for those objects that had no accompanying documentation when they arrived in Swansea (i.e., a Wellcome object slip). Yet sometimes our objects contain auction stickers, which can help identify them in the transcribed catalogues. Other volunteers have been transcribing the old "day books" kept by Kate Bosse Griffiths, the first curator of the collection. These are particularly challenging since Kate's writing is very difficult to decipher, which isn't helped by the fact that she switches, often mid sentence, between English, Welsh, German, and other languages! These day books are particularly interesting and useful as they provide details about the early history of the collection and records of her correspondence with various scholars (fig. 3).

Fig. 3: Day book entry dated 17 July 1972. Letter from Kate to Dieter Mueller

Our Learning Officer, Hannah Sweetapple, has been hard at work creating a number of resources for those teaching at home, which are free to download and print. This includes a mummification comic strip, a mummification experiment, colouring sheets, and a monthly "come and create" session (click on the video below). If you have bored kids at home and are looking for something to keep them busy, why not check out the resources available here.  

The Egypt Centre has recently teamed up with Aura Museum Genius in order to offer audio guides of the collection. While only ten highlights from each gallery are currently available, we hope to be able to offer additional objects in the future (fig. 4). These audio guides can be used while visiting the Museum (when we eventually reopen!) or from the comfort of your own home. Each highlight is narrated by Luke Keenan, our Senior Education Leader. A Welsh version of these objects is currently in production and will be available shortly. This app is free, and while it is currently only available for iPhone uses, an Android version is now in development.  

Fig. 4: Screenshot of the Aura app

The highlights included in the Aura app are based on the thirty objects chosen last year by our award-winning volunteers and members of the public. Over the past week, I have been turning these objects into jigsaw puzzles and posting them on Facebook to keep people occupied. Since these puzzles have proved to be quite popular as a way of highlighting the Egypt Centre collection, I'll continue posting them during the lockdown; some people have been getting very competitive! If you would like to have a go, please click on the following link. A booklet containing the thirty highlights is due to be completed this week (fig. 5). This is the first of several illustrated guides planned to highlight the diverse collection of the Egypt Centre. To receive a pdf copy, just make a contribution of £5 or more to our new crowdfunding page (details below)!

Fig. 5: Cover of our Thirty Highlights booklet

The Egypt Centre relies heavily on educational visits, shop sales, events, and donations as our main source of income. However, with the Museum closed for the foreseeable future due to the lockdown, our income has been greatly affected. We are reaching out to you! Please help us to continue to offer educational resources, to increase our digital presence, to conserve our unique and precious collection, and to support our volunteers.
  • If you are an Egyptophile, please donate! 
  • If you appreciate art, museums, and the preservation of antiquities, please donate!
  • If you have been inspired by our collection, either through visiting the Museum or virtually, please donate!
  • If you value the role of volunteers, please donate!
  • If you are attending one of our free Zoom lectures, please donate!
Please share this appeal as widely as possible with friends, on social media, or other means. Every donation or share makes a difference!

Most importantly, stay home and stay safe!

--   Sent from my Linux system.

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