Yesterday we were privileged to be able to access the excavation day books of Flinders Petrie from his 1900 season at Abydos. As is often the case with archive work, it is rare to find what you are looking for, but you always find interesting information nonetheless. Petrie was a man of his time, excavating sites in Egypt and sending artefacts to museums in Britain. Petrie’s archives tell the tale of a man who was meticulous about recording – from architectural details to the position of graves; yet his attention to detail appears to have fallen short when it comes to the animal remains he must have encountered. Interspersed with records of artefacts and their archaeological context are his shopping lists, payments made to his excavating staff, and details of which worker was allowed to go to the market on which day! He records many artefacts he discovered and their archaeological context, but no mention could be found for the particular group of remains we were searching for – bird remains from the tomb of Merneith, a regent of Egypt during the 1st Dynasty. This in itself is not disastrous as we know their specific find spot from a museum accession label; but we had hoped to find some information to add weight to the their story and that of their owner. Sadly, this was not to be, so it’s back to the drawing board with the analysis of the faunal material. Watch this space!
Whilst in London we met with our exhibition designer, Andrew Gibbs, to discuss the latest plans. Now that the object list is completed (well, almost!), Andrew has the rather unenviable task of trying to fit all the artefacts we want to display into the cases that we have. We have chosen quite a lot of mummies, archive material, paintings and associated artefacts, all of which help to tell the story of the mummies’ discovery, export and subsequent scientific study. This is certainly not going to be a case of ‘less is more’! We can’t wait to see how he gets on.
The Horizon documentary we filmed in October will be broadcast on Monday 11th May at 9pm on BBC2. Apparently, it was selected from a number of broadcasts to fill a free slot – it’s nice to know that the mummies have such great appeal! I have spoken with the BBC series producer this morning and he said the broadcast will be welcome relief from election fatigue! Let’s hope he’s right!