William the Hippo

My ARCHAEO-Crush of the month of May is the non-official mascot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Type: sculpture (faience statuette)
Civilisation: Ancient Egypt
Date: Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reigns of Senwosret I to Senwosret II, circa 1961–1878 B.C.E.

ARCHAEO-Crush: This little statuette is absolutely adorable! A small faience hippopotamus with aquatic plants drawn on its blue body.  Little William from the Metropolitan Museum (the name was given him in 1931 by Captain H. M. Raleigh) was discovered at Meir in  a shaft associated with the funerary chapel of the steward Senbi II’s tomb. The reason for its presence  in the tomb is religious and magical, because, let’s not forget, that hippos are extremely dangerous. (One of the three most terrifying animals in ancient Egypt, the other two being the crocodile and the lion). The animal was a menace to any small craft on the Nile and could wreak havoc in the fields.
The small faience hippo represented the forces of nature that could be harmful to the deceased in the Afterlife, forces that could be controlled or appeased: William the hippo–by his form, colour and the aquatic plants on his body–represented the forces of water and the Nile. With William in his tomb, Senbi II could control the Nile in the Afterlife.  However, in order to prevent the hippo from harming him, three of its legs were intentionally broken.

Bucket list status:  I have seen William a few times and he’s not the only faience hippo at the Met.  There are also other hippos in museums all over the world.

Additional information: William can be seen in Gallery 111 at the Met; he’s number 17.9.1 in the collection.




Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds

Today opens at the British Museum a new and very interesting exhibition: Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds.

Sunken below the waters of the Mediterranean for over 1000 years, the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus as well as their recently recovered underwater treasures are the subject of this blockbuster exhibition.  Not to be missed if you’re in London between 19 May and 27 November.


International Museum Day 2016

Happy International Museum Day!

This year, the theme of ICOM’s International Museum Day is Museums and Cultural Landscapes.  Here is how the International Council of Museums describe this theme:

The theme Museums and Cultural Landscapes makes museums responsible for their landscapes, asking them to contribute knowledge and expertise and take an active role in their management and upkeep. The primary mission of museums is to oversee heritage, whether it be inside or outside their walls. Their natural vocation is to expand their mission and implement their own activities in the open field of cultural landscape and heritage that surrounds them and for which they can assume varying degrees of responsibility.  Highlighting the link between museums and cultural heritage enhances the idea of museums as territorial centres involved in actively protecting the cultural landscape.

You can download a pretty postcard to colour (similar to the poster above) right HERE!

Interview this morning

Yours truly gave an interview to WNCN (CBS) in the Egyptian galleries this morning. We talked about cool objects in the collection. It’s one of those things you do when you’re a curator.  I’ll share the details when I know at which time this will air.

photo 2

Picture taken by my colleague Emily K., Communications Manager at the Museum.


Perhaps a little more Egyptology than I thought…

I posted an addendum to yesterday’s post on La Vida Aegyptiaca. April was such a blur for me, I forgot to mention to very, very important Egyptological events!  Two photos below are evidence of a few more minutes of Egyptology…


So little time, so little Egyptology…

A new post has appeared on La Vida Aegyptiaca, my blog on the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (SSEA).  I have done very little Egyptology these last few months because, since January, I’m working on an exhibition that opens this October 1. (Yep, just 10 months to complete project that would normally be given 2 years.)  Take a look at my post using the link above… and keep in mind the image below.  That’s what I’ve been working on… there’s been so little Egyptology in my life since the New Year.  I take where I can…


1936 Stout Scarab (detail)