Rare 5,000 year old Egyptian artefacts go on display


An exciting collection of Egyptian artefacts dating back 5,000 years is being revealed to the public, after being hidden away in storage for forty years.

A wooden coffin lid from Thebes dates from between 700 and 650 BC

The collection belonged to Anne Goodison from Liverpool and was acquired in the late 1800s.

Around 1,000 pieces were collected on trips to Egypt and now this stunning collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, ornaments, a sarcophagus lid and even a mummy, will now go on permanent display at the Egyptology gallery at Atkinson Art Gallery in Southport, England.

A gold hair ring from the 18th Dynasty

Museum and galleries officer, Nicola Euston said the gallery will be set up into four sections based around Egyptian life, from communications, everyday life, ritual and beauty.

Glazed faience beadwork of the Four Sons of Horus – the hawk and baboon are missing

“We have some really outstanding pieces, it isn’t a huge collection but what we have got is very good quality,” she explained.

“The mummy is called Nes-Amun. We know that he was a priest for the god Amun, who was one of the most important gods to the ancient Egyptians.

The mummy is called Nes-Amun and was a priest for the god Amun

The coffin lid, which will be next to the mummy, is painted all the way down with different scenes, it is beautiful, I love the coffin lid, it is just amazing,” she said.

The coffin lid is painted all the way down with different scenes

A brightly-coloured feathered bird with a human head is part of the haunting collection. 

Wooden ba-birds were placed on top of coffins or shrines in ancient Egypt, allowing the spirits of the dead to gain mobility.

A wooden ba-bird was placed on top of a coffin or shrine to allow the deceased person’s spirit to gain mobility

“He looks a bit like a budgie with big feet,” says Jo Chamberlain of the Atkinson. “Our specimen is unfortunately missing part of one of his wings, but he’s no comedy character.

“The ba-bird had a very important job and was responsible for looking after what made you ‘you’. He could leave the coffin and then return, acting as a spiritual messenger and bringing the deceased sustenance.”

As well as the mummy and sarcophagus lid, there are many treasures to explore from amulets to jewellery, statues, intricate letter seals, original Egyptian wheat grains, as well as pots and bowls that are pre-dynastic, a period that came before the formation of Egypt under one pharaoh, and are more than five thousand years old.

The artefacts, dating from 3,000 BC to 200 AD, include this 2nd Century wooden label for identifying a mummy

Visitors can try on clothes and wigs, receive hair treatments from the era, sample perfumes and weigh human hearts to discover the virtuousness of their former owners.

Fragment of sandstone from the Tell el Amarna archaeological site

There are also interactive sections within the gallery, and there are a number of items on loan from other museums, such as a canopic jar which was used in burial and even has its contents inside.

Photographs: Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport, England