Ancient Objects for Modern Dilemmas: fundraising for Refugee Support Network

‘Remembering the Romans in the Middle East and North Africa’ will be participating in the fundraising evening for the Refugee Support Network at ‘Upstairs at Ritzy’s’, Brixton, London, UK on Tuesday 3rd October 2017. This event is run by the Ancient Objects for Modern Dilemmas project.

Other participants include musicians: Sa’di al Hadithi, Ameen Mokdad and Stef Conner. Nibbles will be provided by Iraqi chef, Philip Juma.

Click here, for tickets and more info.

Poster for Fundraising evening for RSN

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New Memories made at the Great North Museum

We held our last two workshops at the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 and 10 May.  Our deepest thanks go to Alex Boyd for making us feel so welcome, and especially to Andrew Parkin for all his help.

Andrew showed us around the Museum’s extensive collection of Roman objects with a Middle Eastern or North African connection.

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Andrew also made available a range of different Roman objects that we could use in the workshops.

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We were allowed to handle these for closer inspection – provided we were careful!

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As at our workshops in the Petrie Museum in London, participants had the chance to explore how best to light and photograph these objects, under the guidance of Rory Carnegie, our professional photographer.

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People also enjoyed drawing these objects, and others in the Museum’s collections, helped by our artist, Miranda Creswell.  Many used silver leaf to enhance their pictures.

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Participants were also inspired to write about objects, with the assistance of Sarah Ekdawi. Sometimes they described memories evoked by the objects, or they imagined how the objects themselves might feel about taking part in the workshops. We also experimented with the use of thin metal foil that could be embossed with images and words  – with or without the help of a mirror!

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All the participants could take home with them the drawings, photographs, writings, and memories that they created.  With their permission, we have posted copies of their creations on our Gallery page.

We are very grateful to the Great North Museum, and the Petrie Museum, for being such welcoming and generous hosts. We are particularly grateful to everyone who came along and participated in our workshops. They all said how much they enjoyed themselves, and we have certainly been impressed by the quality and range of works that they were inspired to create. We are thinking about how we can preserve all these creations more permanently and accessibly – please watch this space!

Mummy mash-up

Another of the participants, Thandi, at our second workshop at the Petrie Museum on 25th April 2016 was inspired by the mummy portraits. Thandi continued to work on her drawing at home and then added in a background of Siwa oasis using a photograph from a family holiday.

 

If you want to get creative with a mummy portrait, you can come to one of our workshops at the Great North Museum on 9/10 May 2016.

 

Funerary Oration

This piece was written by one of the participants, Peter, after the second workshop at the Petrie Museum, in response to one of the mummy portraits on display.

FUNERAL ORATION TO THE ‘RED YOUTH’ PORTRAYED ON A MUMMY MASK IN THE PETRIE MUSEUM

Peter - mummy portrait
Peter’s drawing of the mummy portrait.

“Marcus was one of my greatest friends. We played together as children and we had the same Greek tutor. I loved him like a brother and I think he loved me in the same way. When he was eighteen he went to serve in Ptolemy’s army which was engaged with the 2nd Legion Traiana Fortis. We tried to dislodge them from Alexandria but they were too strong for us and they were relieved after a few months by the 3rd Legion Cyrenaica. Marcus served with great courage but he met his match against the 3rd Legion and was killed along with 3000 others. I went out to the battlefield after the fray and eventually found his body, sadly mutilated. He had several deep wounds in his chest and neck but his face was more or less intact. We brought him here and now bury him with full military honours.

What sort of person was Marcus? In his funerary portrait he looks serious, almost menacing. But I can’t remember that. I remember jokes and laughter, endless intrigues with girls and huge celebrations where vast quantities of wine were consumed. Marcus never had any money because he was always enjoying himself too much. I can’t say he was a very brilliant student: he never did his homework, was usually late for school and often absent on some unlikely pretext. But he passed the test for Ptolemy’s army, so he clearly was no slouch. He was an excellent horseman and a formidable swordsman.

I will miss him terribly and I know his family are totally bereft. May the verdict of his judges in the final reckoning be favourable and his journey to the next world be safe and happy.”

 

What will inspire you to write? Come to one of our free workshops at the Great North Museum on 9th and 10th May to find an object that inspires you. Come along on the day or book a place: rememberingromans@gmail.com

Personal memories of our workshops

Christel and Carl took part in our first workshop at the Petrie Museum in London on 18 April.  They have kindly agreed to let us post their diary entries, so that you can share in the memories they created on the day:

Christel diary

Carl diary

To see the photographs and drawings that Christel and Carl talk about in their diaries, take a look through our gallery.

There’s still an opportunity to join one of our workshops at the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 or 10 May. Come and meet ancient Roman objects with a Middle Eastern connection, and create your own new memories by drawing, writing and photographing, guided by our experts. The workshops are free, and we will provide all the materials, lunch and refreshments. Let us know which date suits you best at: rememberingromans@gmail.com.

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Participants at the first workshop having fun decorating their drawings with silver leaf.

More new memories at the Petrie Museum

Our heartfelt thanks once again to Alice Stevenson and the staff at the Petrie Museum in London for all their help with the second of our workshops on 25 April. Once again we had the museum to ourselves, and were treated to special access to several items not usually on public display. Here we are being shown examples from the museum’s large collection of ancient Egyptian papyri, including an exquisite copy of the Book of the Dead.

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Participants again had the chance to handle Roman objects from Egypt, and to consider how best to photograph them, with the help of Rory Carnegie, our professional photographer.

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Everyone found it inspiring to explore the huge and varied collection at the Petrie Museum, and to have the time to examine thoroughly those objects that caught their imagination. Often, with the assistance of Sarah Ekdawi, they wrote about memories that the objects had evoked in them, or they created new stories about an object’s history, or they imagined how the objects themselves might feel about being in a museum.

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Above all, people enjoyed drawing the objects they had selected and, guided by our artist, Miranda Creswell, applied silver leaf to enhance their creations.

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As always, the participants could take home with them the drawings, photographs, writings, and memories that they had created. They also gave permission for us to post their creations on our Gallery page.

It’s quite sad to leave the Petrie Museum after meeting so many interesting new people at the workshops, and creating such wonderful new memories about the Romans in ancient Egypt, but the project now moves to the North. We are holding two new workshops in the Great North Museum in Newcastle on the 9th and 10th of May. The format will be the same, with writing, drawing and photography, assisted by our experts. Once again there will be Roman objects to handle and examine up close, but also some wonderful galleries of objects from Hadrian’s Wall and elsewhere with connections to the ancient Middle East.

The workshops are free, and we supply all the materials, lunch and refreshments. What new memories will you create? Let us know which workshop you would like to attend at: rememberingromans@gmail.com.

Meet someone new at the Great North Museum on 9 or 10 May

This bust of a man in the Great North Museum in Newcastle is from Palmyra and dates from the second century AD. We know that he was a priest because of his tall cylindrical hat, known as a ‘modius’. These hats were probably made of felt, and although some were plain, others were decorated with wreaths and small objects. This one has a wreath with an oval stone at the front.

The type of hat used in ancient Palmyra differs from those worn by priests elsewhere in the Near East, which were usually conical in this period.  Palmyrene priests also shaved off all their hair and did not grow beards, unlike other priests in the region. These differences existed before the Romans took control of Palmyra, and all the evidence suggests that there were few changes in any of the religious institutions in the city as a result of Roman rule.

Come and meet this priest and other objects from the Roman period with a Middle Eastern connection at a free workshop in the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 or 10 May. Create new memories by drawing, writing and photography, assisted by our experts. We’ll supply all the materials, lunch and refreshments. Just let us know which date you prefer: rememberingromans@gmail.com.

And, after you’ve been to our workshop in Newcastle, don’t forget to visit the other archaeological collections in Durham and elsewhere.

New memories made at the Petrie Museum

Huge thanks to Alice Stevenson and all the staff at the Petrie Museum in London who helped make our first workshop on 18 April such an enjoyable success.

We had the museum to ourselves, and were treated to special access to mummy masks that are not on public display, and a guided introduction to their large and fascinating collection of all sorts of objects from ancient Egypt.

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We were also given special permission to handle some selected objects, all of which date from the Roman period.

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Participants at the workshop took turns to consider how best to light and photograph these objects, guided by Rory Carnegie, our professional photographer.

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Meanwhile, the others explored the collection and drew inspiration from particular objects that they discovered. It was particularly exiting to be able then to sit and create new memories surrounded by mummy masks and other precious objects from thousands of years of history.

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Everyone had a go at drawing objects that had caught their eye, and with the help of our artist, Miranda Creswell, used silver leaf and other techniques to enhance what they had created. People also produced creative writing, assisted by Sarah Ekdawi. Sometimes this was about memories evoked by seeing certain objects, and sometimes it expressed how they imagined the objects might feel about their new life in the museum.

Everyone could take home with them the drawings, photographs, writings, and memories that they had created during the day. They also kindly gave permission for us to post copies of what they produced on our Gallery page.

If you would like to join us at our other workshop in the Petrie Museum, on 25 April, or at one of the workshops at the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 and 10 May, please let us know at: rememberingromans@gmail.com. The workshops are free, and we supply all the materials, lunch and refreshments. What new memories will you be inspired to make?

The face of Caesar and Cleopatra’s son?

This statue head in the Petrie Museum in London might well represent Caesarion, the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. He was born in 47 BC, and later appears as co-ruler of Egypt with Cleopatra. His official name was Ptolemy XV, but he was often referred to in Egypt as ‘Caesar’, using the Greek pronunciation ‘Kaisaros’, as in this hieroglyph cartouche (an oval frame that indicated a royal name) on a stele which is also in the Petrie Museum.

Caesarion stele - Copy

After the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, Mark Antony supported Caesarion’s claim to be Caesar’s successor. Following the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and their suicides in Egypt in the following year, Caesarion tried to escape to India. He was captured and executed by Octavian, who went on to become the first Emperor of Rome under the name Augustus, and Caesarion was never officially recognised as Caesar’s son.

There are still a few places left at our free workshops in the Petrie Museum on 18 and 25 April, where you can create new memories by drawing, photographing, and writing about ancient objects like these, helped by our experts. Let us know if you would like to join us: rememberingromans@gmail.com

The earliest Zodiac in Britain

This sculpture from the Mithraeum at Housesteads on Hadrian’s Wall shows the god Mithras being born from an egg. His body rises from the lower part of the shell, and the upper part is still on his head.

gnm mithras (366x500)

Mithras is usually shown being born from a rock, but the most exciting thing about this third-century sculpture is that the god is surrounded by an egg-shaped frame with the signs of the Zodiac on it. This is the earliest surviving depiction in Britain of the twelve signs of the Zodiac as we know them today.

The egg was a symbol of eternity, and the Zodiac was normally associated with Aion, the god of endless time. These cosmic symbols show that, on this section of Hadrian’s Wall, Mithras was worshipped as the eternal ‘Lord of Ages’, the perpetual creator of all things.

Come and see this sculpture at our free workshops in the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 or 10 May, and create new timeless memories by drawing, photographing and writing about ancient objects and what they mean to you. For more info or to let us know which date you would like to come: rememberingromans@gmail.com