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.

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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.

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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

Meet someone new at the Petrie Museum

There are still a few places left at our free workshops on 18 and 25 April at the Petrie Museum in London. Come and meet some ancient objects and create new memories by drawing, photographing, or writing about them, helped by our experts. We’ll provide all the materials and refreshments.

We’ll have several ancient objects that you can examine up close, and even handle, but you’ll also be able to look round the whole of the Petrie Museum, the UK’s largest collection of objects from ancient Egypt. The museum will be closed to the public, so we’ll have it all to ourselves.

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Perhaps you’ll be inspired by an object like this rather mysterious terracotta head. It depicts someone with short, dark hair and a beard that is neatly trimmed under the chin. It was found in Memphis in Egypt, but it looks more like the way that ancient Egyptians represented people from the Middle East rather than the Nile valley. Was it a portrait of a foreign merchant who had come to live in Egypt? What memories would it have evoked in people who saw it? Let us know if you can join us in exploring these ideas on 18 or 25 April.

How would you photograph an object?

When I look at an ancient pot, I see an archaeological artefact and I photograph it like this, so that I can see its design and decoration, which help me determine when and where it was made.

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When Rory Carnegie, the professional photographer on our project, looks at the same pot, he sees a work of art and photographs it like this, because looking at it differently can sometimes bring out how beautiful an object is.

GNM jug

How would you photograph it? Come and meet Rory at our workshops in London on 18 or 25 April, or in Newcastle on 9 or 10 May, and have a go at creating new perspectives of old objects – we’ll provide the camera and print the results for you. Come on the day or let us know which workshop suits you best: rememberingromans@gmail.com

Face to face with Mummy Portraits

Both the Petrie and the Great North Museum have examples of ancient mummy portraits. The woman on the left is from the Petrie collection in London and the man on the right is in the Great North Museum in Newcastle.

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These portraits are a fascinating example of the blending of ancient cultures in Egypt under the Roman empire. They were made for a community who probably regarded themselves as descendants of Greek settlers. From the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD they buried their dead with highly realistic portraits painted on wood of people wearing Greek or Roman clothing and jewellery, but which were set into mummy bandages or coffins that followed age-old Egyptian burial traditions.

The portraits must have been painted specifically to commemorate individuals who had died. But did they represent them as they really were, or as they wanted to be remembered? The faces appeal to our modern sense of photorealism, but were they originally intended more to evoke memories of class, gender, profession, or cultural background? If you come to our free workshops on 18 or 25 April in London or on 9 or 10 May in Newcastle, you can come face to face with mummy portraits and explore what memories they hold.

Petrie Museum workshops coming soon!

Don’t miss out on the chance to handle and experience museum objects in a new way at our workshops in the Petrie Museum in London on 18 and 25 April.

You’ll meet objects like this ceramic oil lamp that provided light in the home of ancient Egyptians living at the opposite end of the Roman empire from Britain. It’s a simple object, but certainly not ordinary – and it was a constant part of some family’s life. What memories would they have had when they lit it each evening? What memories does it evoke in us today? Come and tell us what you think – just let us know which workshop you would like to come to.

See our Workshops page for more information.

Objects for the Newcastle workshops

These Roman pots from North Africa are just some of the objects that participants will be able to examine and even handle at our workshops on 9 and 10 May at the Great North Museum. There will also be lamps, a glass vessel, pieces of sculpture, and coins of Roman emperors who came from North Africa or the Middle East, such as Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and Philip the Arab.

What memories might these objects have evoked in the people that saw and used them in the past? What memories do they evoke for us today? Come and join us to explore these ideas – just let us know which workshop suits you best.

See our Workshops page for more details.