100 Years and Counting: My 3 Favourite Objects at the Royal Ontario Museum

Tags

, , , ,

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in the heart of Toronto is celebrating its 100 year Centennial this year. What grand celebrations they are indeed. As a student here at UofT, we have the privilege of having some of our classes take place at that ROM. It is wonderful to be learning about ancient Egypt first-hand with genuine artifacts. Objects you normally only see in beautifully bound books can be viewed at with your very own eyes! Now, the ROM has Canada’s largest Egyptian collection by a mile and more, numbering nearly 30,000 objects. Its “Galleries of Africa: Egypt” contains artifacts from all periods and is also arranged thematically in parts.

Thomas Explaining the Layout of Djoser's Step Pyramid at Saqqara

Thomas Explaining the Layout of Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara

Yet, what are some of my favourites on display in the Galleries? Here, I only list three:

1. Relief of Donkeys from the Tomb of Metjeti (Saqqara – 5th Dyn.)

Located within the Old Kingdom section of the Gallery, a relief from the tomb of the private official, Metjeti, shows several donkeys in quick succession, who are carrying sacks of grain. Even though the relief is carved in typical Egyptian fashion, the way the artist renders one donkey’s position different to his companions gives it a lively sentiment. Of course, Egyptians believed that whatever you depict on the walls of a tomb or temple is magically potent, that is, it can take on a life of its own. Agricultural scenes were very common in ancient Egypt and we have several fine examples from exactly this period. These donkeys here were carrying sacks of grain, an important aspect in the maintenance of daily life in the tomb owner’s afterlife.

Relief of Donkeys in the Tomb of Metjeti (5th Dyn.)

Relief of Donkeys in the Tomb of Metjeti (5th Dyn.)

2. Predynastic Stone Palettes

These marvellous examples are among my favourite objects from the Predynastic Period, a time when all aspects of Egyptian arts and culture were still developing. Originally, these palettes were used to grind pigment, such as malachite for make up. Over the centuries, they became more and more elaborate and eventually were used in larger palettes that were incised and inscribed with intricate scenes. Of course, they then were only used commemoratively. The display here shows you rhomboidal shapes and you can even make out one that looks like a turtle!

Predynastic Stone Palettes

Predynastic Stone Palettes

3. Cast of Reliefs from Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple (18th Dyn.)

Okay, this is only a plaster cast made in 1905 from the original scenes as they are from the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari Luxor’s West Bank. The scenes depict the grand expedition, which Hatshepsut mounted to the mythical land of Punt in the ninth year of her reign.

Unloading of Ships from Hatshepsut's Expedition

Unloading of Ships from Hatshepsut’s Expedition

We can imagine a busy port that is bustling with activity. Baboons that were brought back from Punt hop and climb all over the boat. Fish are depicted in clear detail, swimming below the water. Then, another scene shows, what the landscape in Punt must have looked like. Huts stand on stilts with ladders leading onto the ground below. Birds flap their wings relaxedly from tree to tree.

Huts stand on Punt's Mythical Landscape

Huts stand on Punt’s Mythical Landscape

Egyptologists, of course, have to this day yet to figure out, where exactly Punt is located. Several guesses have been put forth and the most likely location may be on the coast in Eritrea. Scenes of the huts above are a good example to show, what the kind of lifestyle and the vegetation must have been like. Also, the cast is very important as it is not subject to any severe climatic changes unlike its original in Luxor. It is a truly a treasure that is in the hands of the ROM.

The collection at the ROM is truly magnificent. It is a proud testament to why the museum is celebrating its Centennial. And here, there is to a 100 more!

All photos are © Royal Ontario Museum and were taken by Thomas H. Greiner.

Help Egypt and its Antiquities: Positive Work towards Protecting Cultural Heritage

Tags

, , , ,

The past few weeks and months there have been sad news regarding the state of antiquities and cultural heritage around the world. From reports of the destruction of the famed shrine of Jonas near Mosul, Iraq, by ISIS militants to the sale of the Old Kingdom statue of Sekehmka by Northampton Borough Council in the UK, similar stories surface every day. We are now all too familiar with these kinds of stories, yet what work is being done to protect cultural heritage around the globe?

Continue reading

Crisis at Christie’s: the Sale of the Statue of Sekhemka and its Implications on Cultural Heritage

Tags

, , ,

As a citizen of Canada and resident of Toronto, Ontario, I have the privilege to live in a city with plenty of museums and amazing cultural heritage. This privilege ranges from ongoing festivals, which celebrate diversity and the multiculturalism that our city is known for to outstanding museum collections such as the Royal Ontario Museum to celebrate our past.

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada

While we appreciate and are grateful for this privilege, there is also a certain level of responsibility that comes with protecting our heritage. In essence, we are stewards of our past, stewards of the objects and material culture, which have come down to us through our predecessors. Yet, there are many challenges that our heritage faces and are highlighted exceptionally by Colin Renfrew, who writes:

Crisis is not too strong a word to use when we speak of the predicament which today faces the historic heritage in nearly every country on earth. The world’s archaeological resource, which through the practice of archaeology is our principal source of knowledge about the early human past, is being destroyed at a formidable and increasing rate. It is destroyed by looters in order to serve the lucrative market in illicit artefacts through which private collectors and, alas, some of the major museums of the world, fulfil their desire to accumulate antiquities. (1)

Crisis. Think about it for one moment.

Continue reading

An Egyptian Tomb and the Winds of the Afterlife: Chicago’s Field Museum

Tags

, , ,

On our visit to Chicago last year, a visit to the renowned Field Museum was on the top of my list of things to do. Known for their specimens in Natural History, I also wanted to check out its Egyptian collection. In particular, it was the reconstruction of an Old Kingdom tomb of a private official, Unas-ankh, that intrigued me.

The Field Museum in Chicago awaits you

The Field Museum in Chicago awaits you

Continue reading

The Biblical Museum and Ancient Egypt in Abbotsford, BC: an Update

Tags

, , , , ,

This post is part of my Ancient Egypt in Vancouver blog series, this constitutes part 3.

In my search to locate the Biblical Museum of Canada in Vancouver last year, I finally managed to track it down. Trying to discover it within the campus of the University of British-Columbia, where I had begun my quest, there were several stops along this journey. It finally led me to Abbotsford, B.C. to Columbia Bible College.

Columbia Bible College in 2013

Columbia Bible College in 2013

The College is located about an hour’s drive from Vancouver and is among the foremost Christian institutions in Canada. When I got there, I met Anne Andres, the director of the now known Metzger Collection. She kindly showed me around campus and also let me see, where the collection was housed. All the objects were carefully wrapped up in boxes, located below the College’s library. The collection consists of more than 1,000 reproductions, which Rev. Dr. Metzger had collected in his journeys. Regarding ancient Egypt, the collection has more than 100 replicas of authentic Egyptian objects. While there is no actual, authentic artifact from Egypt in the collection, its value is by no means diminished.

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 88 other followers