It’s been quite an exciting beginning to my internship at the Museum. The first month has gone by in the blink of an eye! I never guessed how extensive and diverse Boston Children’s Museum’s collections were. Lately, I’ve been drawn to the Museum’s ancient artifacts from Egypt, Israel, Greece, Iran and Italy, just to name a few. Ceramics, jewelry, stone carvings, lamps, wooden figures, and even mummy linen are some of the artifacts that are in the collection.
Recently, I just finished cataloging 213 Ancient Egyptian artifacts. Each artifact is unique and beautiful, but some of their stories are lost to time. The majority of the artifacts were gifted to the Museum between the 1920s and 1950s by Bostonians who traveled to Egypt. Other artifacts came from archaeological excavations that occurred in Egyptian cities such as Deir el-Bahari and Faiyum.
I’ve picked out a few of my favorite Ancient Egyptian artifacts to share with you.
To begin, above is a beautiful mummy mask. The mask is made of painted plaster on linen; a technique called cartonnage, which forms the shape of the face. The paint features gold leaf and different crushed minerals for the red and blue colors.
Next, we have a juvenile crocodile mummy:
This object is particularly interesting because it’s unwrapped. You can still see the details and coloring of its scales. Even its tiny teeth and toes are still there! The collection contains several other animal mummies including an ibis, a hawk, and a pigeon. Ancient Egyptians frequently mummified animals including cats, dogs, snakes and even entire bulls. Certain animals were considered sacred to different gods and goddesses in ancient Egyptian culture.
The last artifact is an ushabti, which is also called a shabti or a shawabti (typically, each of these different names refers to a certain time period in Ancient Egypt):
These figures were placed in tombs and believed to serve the dead in the afterlife. Many like this one include hieroglyphics of a spell to bring it to life. Ushabtiu (yep, that’s its plural form) were one of the most common grave goods.
Currently, I am planning an Ancient Egyptian window exhibit and program to take place at the end of November. More artifacts will be exhibited and presented in the program with the opportunity to touch (of course with gloves on) ancient artifacts and participate in a fun learning experience. Keep watching the Museum’s calendar for an upcoming date and I hope to see you there!