Hello, Elisha here!
The past few weeks I have been busy preparing for an upcoming exhibition in Hollytrees Museum titled ‘What’s in Store’. This exhibition will showcase some of the hidden gems from the collections and I was given the opportunity to choose my theme. With my background being in Egyptology, Ancient Egypt seemed the obvious choice. The Collections and Learning Team were excited by this, as there is rarely a reason to display Egyptian objects in Colchester.
Though there isn’t a lot within this collection, the objects we do have are beautiful. By far the strong point is that there are 29 stunning shabtis. Shabtis were small figures designed to animate in the afterlife and carry out all the hard work for the person who had died.
They are varied in both colour and size, but one that particularly grabbed my interest was this one:
It may look dull and lacking in the detail of the others, but this is a specific form of shabti called a ‘contours perdus’ or ‘lack of contours’. They are relatively rare and usually date to the 20th Dynasty (the New Kingdom) in Egypt, and are made of alabaster painted with wax. It is really fantastic having a shabti so different to the others in the collection.
Rather excitingly, Jess (Collections and Learning Curator) discovered an unaccessioned fragment of Egyptian coffin in the stores recently. It was unknown to everyone, and so I was very happy to have the job of translating, researching and accessioning it (Accessioning is when we officially accept an object into our collection).
This was great fun for me, getting stuck into the inscription and getting to use my hieroglyphic dictionary like the good old days of university. The translation appears to read: “who is praised of his god and honoured of his town”. Obviously a reasonably important person!
These items will definitely make an appearance in the upcoming ‘What’s in Store’ exhibition. I am really excited to do more work on this and eventually see all of these beautiful objects on display!
Have a great week.