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.


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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:

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:

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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.


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.


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


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:

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.


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.


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: 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:

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.

GNM Jug side








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:

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.