Metal Heads! (The archaeological kind.)

Last week, the objects under study for the classical catalogue were the ancient metals (bronze statuettes and gold finger rings). Ancient bronze specialist Carol M. visited the NCMA to examine our (very lovely) pieces and Corey was there as well for the conservation assessment. However, Noelle, our very tech-savvy conservator of record for the research project, had all the fun!

Some of the statuettes were x-rayed and the fabulous Head of a Woman in the Guise of a Goddess was zapped in the eye with the XRF (to obtain the composition of the silver used for her eyes).  Noelle also brought the Head to the mail room this morning so it could get weighed!

Cue whatever heavy metal band you’ve got on your playlist and take a look at these cool pics!


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.




Egyptian Action Figures?!

Staff members have been helping out during our very, very busy fall exhibitions by taking guard duty in the permanent galleries. A number of colleagues have dropped by my office to share visitor comments regarding the Egyptian galleries (always good comments and fun stories). This morning, Laura F dropped by and made my day with her anecdote. When she was on duty in the Egyptian gallery, a small boy of about 9 zoomed passed her straight to the vitrine with our two statuettes of Isis and Horus and one of Osiris with great excitement. “Egyptian action figures!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.
(Laura’s rendering of story also made it very funny.)

I howled with laughter! It made my day!

A rather poor photograph taken by yours truly this morning of the so-called 'Egyptian Action Figures.' (The Museum is not open to the public on Mondays, so the galleries are not lit... hence the poor photograph.)

A rather poor photograph taken by yours truly this morning of the so-called ‘Egyptian Action Figures.’ (The Museum is not open to the public on Mondays, so the galleries are not lit… hence the poor photograph.)