This past weekend, the NCMA hosted its third annual floral fundraiser Art in Bloom. Once again, designers picked a work of art out of a hat and created a floral arrangement inspired by that artwork. As I have done in the past, I visited the galleries for this colourful occasion and am presenting on An Archaeologist’s Diary the ones found in my ancient galleries. Let’s start with ancient Egypt, shall we?
Inspired by the Inner Coffin of Djedmut
By Bonnie Mirmak
I must admit that this particular arrangement did not strike my fancy even though I like blue, indigo and purple flowers. The colours found on the coffin are reflected in the choice of flowers, but I found the arrangement too horizontal for such a tall and slim artefact. (Actually, the design made me think of a boat and there is an ancient Egyptian model boat nearby.) However, I did notice how some of the papyrus umbels were gathered and tied at the top and that reminded me of the white crown of Upper Egypt (Whether this was intentional, I did not know. The description references flowers found on coffins…)
Inspired by the Reclining Bull
By Avant Gardeners Garden Club
This was my favourite floral design in the Egyptian galleries. I thought it was a wonderfully whimsical interpretation of the work–inspired not just be the colours but also the shape, down to the horns! What made me smile was the little bell hanging from the plants gathered at the top. A fun element that reminds us all of the bells around cows’ neck and the melodic sound of them moving around. Nice job! (And the club has a cool name, too!)
CAROLINE ROBERTS, Conservator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
I love a good mystery, and nothing (save a really good crime novel) is better than an artifact mystery. I love the thrill of investigating an object, identifying its agents of deterioration, and nabbing those culprits one by one. I also really enjoy teaching new conservators how to use investigative tools to make their own observations. I recently spent a day looking at an object with Ellen Seidell, a U of M junior who is interning in our lab. The ceramic bowl – excavated at Karanis in 1929 – was covered with feathery white crystals, as well as a drippy, peeling surface coating. I had my suspicions as to what these were, but wanted Ellen to learn for herself how to identify unknown materials.
To do this, we examined the bowl under longwave ultraviolet light. This is a useful tool not only for…
Work has kept me away from An Archaeologist’s Diary more than I ever thought it would so far this year… and December is not going to be any different! So today’s ARCHAEO-Crush is for October, November and December… and it was inspired by one of the men whose accomplishments were presented in my Egyptology Seminar last weekend.
Civilisation: Ancient Egypt Date: Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4 (circa 2613-2494 B.C.E.)
ARCHAEO-Crush: This Old Kingdom statue is remarkable in a number of ways, First of all, the physique of the man depicted here is more than stunning in its appearance. He is stocky and fleshy in a manner seldom seen in Egyptian art, which normally depicts men as eternally youthful, slim and with well-defined muscles… which is not the case with Hemiunu. Was the man really this corpulent and he wanted to be represented in a realistic manner? Or was his massive physique synonymous with wealth and accomplishment, indicating his important status in the Egyptian government and society?
Both hypotheses are possible because Hemiunu was indeed a very important man in ancient Egypt. The colourful inscription on the base of his statue gives us numerous titles and offices. Among other titles, Hemiunu was of royal blood (the son of either Snefru or Nefermaat), the vizier (prime minister) during the reign of King Khufu, a priest and the overseer of all the construction works of the king. As the latter, he was in charge of all the architectural projects initiated by the king for whom he worked. And he worked of King Khufu…. and you know what that means, right? Hemiunu was likely the man in charge of the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza! Not too shabby an accomplishment, that!
Bucket list status: The first time I saw this statue with my own eyes was at the Royal Ontario Museum when the statue was part of the Egyptian Art during the Age of the Pyramids exhibition. The Hildesheim Museum, where Hemiunu normally resides, was under renovation and it travelled to Toronto. I have since been to Hildesheim to him again… he’s always so impressive.
Additional information: When Hermann Junker discovered the statue in Hemiunu’s mastaba at Giza, the head had already suffered some damage. The nose was smashed and the eyes had been gauged out. The face of the statue was restored in the early 20th century based on Hermiunu’s features as seen from a relief from the MFA Bostonthat shows him with an aquiline nose.
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.
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.
Picture taken by my colleague Emily K., Communications Manager at the Museum.
This morning, I was in the NCMA’s Egyptian galleries teaching a class of students at Havelock High School (which is about 2 and half hours east of Raleigh)… using our very nifty SECU mobile distance learning cart. The class had already 3D-printed a replica of the Amulet of Isis and Horus (which we scanned back in February) but they could see the original in the vitrine next to me as I talked about it.
We also chatted about Nehebkau (another amulet) and one of the school groups visiting the galleries with their art teacher stopped to listen to me… and then photobombed the lesson when they realised I was actually talking to other high school kids. It was hilarious… everyone was waving at each other… and Emily and I were laughing. Yes, ancient Egypt is that fun!
Thanks, Emily, for taking the pictures and manning the cart!