Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Unwrapping of a Mummy at Edgeworth Manor House

The Unwrapping of a Mummy at Edgeworth Manor House 

In the autumn of 1851, Edmund Hopkinson (1787-1869), the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, issued invitations to an eclectic mix of guests to his mansion, Edgeworth Manor in Stroud.  Scientists, doctors, chemists, and a scattering of Hopkinson’s friends, were promised a sumptuous dinner; but first they were to be treated to a very special late afternoon entertainment, for Hopkinson was in possession of an Egyptian mummy which he had chosen that day to unwrap.  Hopkinson was neither a collector nor had he acquired the mummy as a souvenir, both of which were the usual methods of owning such an antiquity.   Instead, it’s journey to Edgeworth Manor came via a succession of owners, each enjoying the artefact for its curiosity value. 

Edmund Hopkinson: Image from the National PortraitGallery

The mummy, and its three elaborate coffins, were first brought to England in 1834 by James Burton (1788-), an Egyptologist and collector of Egyptian antiquities.  In 1836 Burton placed his collection for sale through the auctioneers Wilkinson, Hodge and Sotheby’s, minus the mummy and the cartonage, which transferred ownership to Burton’s friend George Greenough.  It was likely that the mummy and cartonage may have changed hands in part repayment of the debt, as Burton is known to have lent heavilly from Greenough.  Both the mummy and its cartonnage were displayed in the ‘Mummy Room’ at Greenough's house in Regent's Park.  It formed part of a collection which was regularly shown to dinner guests in order to stimulate conversation.  It remained in Greenough’s home for 25 years until tiring of his curiosity, he offered it as an after dinner raffle prize.  The mummy was subsequently won by Hopkinson, the brother-in-law of Burton, in 1848 at a Christmas party. The mummy, nested within a cartonnage coffin, a wooden inner coffin and a rectangular outer coffin, now became resident in Edgewood Manor. 

The unwrapping of the mummy, since identified as Padiamun, a sailor of the barque of Amun,  was an elaborate affair.   Alongside the promised dinner, there were drinks and music supplied by the Cirencester Town Brass Band.  The unwrapping was performed by Mr Rumsey, a local surgeon, who it was reported, stripped the body of  no less than 280 yards of bandage. The removal of the inner wrappings proved difficult due to the layers of gum, but once released from its linen, the mummy proved to be in excellent condition: ‘the wrinkles of the skin, the form of the limbs, and even the expression of the countenance (were) well retained’.  Rumsey concluded that the brain had been removed via the nose which, in itself, showed considerable damage.  No papyri or inscriptions were found among the bandages, nor were there any amulets, scarabcoi, rings, or jewels about the body. At the conclusion of the examination the party sat down to dinner ‘where the elegance of the entertainment was only equalled by the kind courtesy and hospitality of the worthy host’.
The mummy, and its bandages, which were roughly replaced on the body after its unwrapping, was given by Hopkinson to the Gloucester Museum in 1852 together with one of the coffins.  The largest, outermost coffin and the innermost cartonage coffin had suffered badly from being kept in damp conditions and were thrown away by Hopkinson.  In 1953, Gloucester Museum gifted both the mummy and its coffin to Liverpool Museum to replace objects lost in World War Two when the Egyptian Gallery was bombed (accession number 53.72).  
The Mummy of Padiamun
Image via Liverpool Museums

Padiamun has undergone several investigations since coming to Liverpool.   In 1967, the mummy was x-rayed and an instrument used by Rumsey in the 1851 unwrapping was found to be still lying inside the skull.  The coffin has also been dated to the 22nd dynasty and its style has been identified as  being contemporary to the area of Thebes.  More recent scanning has also taken place and has produced some remarkably clear images of the mummy without having to inflict any further intrusive damage.

Scan of Padiamun's nasal cavity
Image via Liverpool Museums

Coffin of Padiamun

The coffin is beautifully decorated - on the front is an image of Padiamun and Osiris in the hall of judgement.  Padiamun is clutching his heart in readiness for it being weighed and Thoth, Anubis and Maat are shown accompanying him.  On the shoulders of the coffin can be seen the rare images of hippocampus (seahorses). On the inside there is a died pillar  holding the crook and flail often seen as a symbol of kingship.  It also has horns which can be associated with the god Khnumn. Ba birds fly above the horns, arms reaching for the sun disc.  At the top of the coffin, a single figure holds up a solar barque.


Cooke, N (1996).  ‘Burton and KV5’ in Minerva pp6-9.

Cooke, N. (2001).  The Forgotten Egyptologist: James Burton in P. Starkey & J Starkey (Eds) Travellers in Egypt.  London: I B Tauris & Co. Ltd P85-96

Davies, R A (1985).  Haliburton’s Letters in The Thomas Chandler Haliburton Symposium Ed. F M Tierney.  Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press: pp25-36, 29.

Gloucester Journal.  25 October 1851.

Stroud News, The Mummy Returns! Unwrap an Egyptian Easter surprise,  9th April 2009

Taylor, J.H. (2003), 'Theban coffins from the 22nd to the 26th Dynasty: dating and synthesis of development ' in Nigel Strudwick and John H Taylor (eds.) The Theban Necropolis: Past, Present and Future.  London: British Museum Press pp.109-10, pl. 59

Saturday, 25 July 2015

On This Day...excavator, benefactor & collector Richard Vyse was born

On this day in 1794, the benefactor, excavator and author, Richard William Howard Vyse was born.

In 1835 he carried out excavations at the pyramids of Giza, which were considered to be one of the most important investigations on this area to have been carried out during the nineteenth century.

Vyse subsequently wrote Operations carried on at the pyramids of Gizeh in 1837, a text that still retained relevance into modern times.

Vyse collected Egyptian antiquities, some of which were gifted to the British Museum.

One item was a 12th dynasty granodiorite statue of Senwosret I (EA 44) said to be from Karnak.

Another item from his collection, also in the British Museum was a 4th dynasty wooden anthropoid coffin of Menkaure (EA 6647).

Bibliography: Who Was Who in Egyptology 4th Revised Edition.  Ed. M L Bierbrier.  London: The Egypt Exploration Society (2012)

Friday, 10 July 2015

2015-16 Lectures at the Egypt Centre

I am very excited to announce the 2015-16 list of speakers for the Egypt Centre, Swansea have been finalised and are listed below.

I hope that those that are in Wales around the time of these evenings will pop along, enjoy the talk and even come for a meal afterwards with us if you are able! 

Wednesday 16 September 2015

This month’s lecture will follow the Friends of the Egypt Centre AGM, which begins at 6pm and is held at the same venue as the lecture.  All Friends are welcome and are encouraged to attend. 

TitlePresenting Ancient Egypt - the creation of the Secret Egypt exhibition

Abstract: This talk will look at the interpretative techniques that were used to create a highly successful exhibition on ancient Egypt that has been seen by over 120,000 people around the UK. We will see how through the interpreted use of primary source material, Secret Egypt has attempted to dispel well established misconceptions about ancient Egypt to convey a more accurate but still remarkable and vivid picture of this ancient civilisation.

Chris Kirby
Director of Collections for Culture Coventry

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Title: Ancient Egyptian Demons: an interactive workshop

Abstract: Ancient Egyptian demons are conceptual imaginings of ancient minds, a projection and manifestation of fears of the unexplained. A short lecture will discuss some of the problems encountered when modern scholars study these ancient visualisations and textual descriptions of demons. Following this is an interactive workshop that brings the Demon Creation Station (Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: 2K) to you, so expect to get creative!

Zuzanna Bennett
PhD candidate in Egyptology
The Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: Second Millennium BCE
Swansea University

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Title: Going to the Dogs: New work at the catacombs of Anubis, North Saqqara

Abstract: This paper will look at a site that has been known since the 19th Century but which has received very little archaeological attention.  The results of the work offer a more complete picture of the development, abandonment and re-use of this important monument at Saqqara.

Professor Paul T. Nicholson
Department of Archaeology
School of History, Archaeology and Religion

16 December 2015

Title: Visualising the votive: revealing mummified animals using X-rays

How can we unravel the secrets of the dead? Materials science, engineering, microscopy, zooarcheaology, Egyptology, and herpetology (and a BBC documentary crew!) are combined to investigate a number of different animal mummies from the Egypt Centre collection. Using advanced X-ray imaging, we reveal internal structures at high resolution, including ‘harder’ skeletal structures, wrappings and mummification materials, and even dessicated soft tissues. These structures remain intact after thousands of years, and are made visible by X-ray microtomography. 

Dr Richard Johnston
Senior Lecturer | Materials Research Centre
College of Engineering | Swansea University

Christmas Get Together: After the lecture there will follow the Friends’ Christmas get together.  Don’t forget to pop this event into your diary!

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Title: Search for the Missing Tombs of Egypt

Abstract: Manetho and others gave us lists of kings. Archaeologists have provided us with their tombs, but not quite all of them - yet. What are the chances that the tombs of Imhotep, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra and others have yet to be found and where might they be?

Book Signing: After the lecture, there will be opportunities to buy a signed copy of Dr Naunton’s newly published book.

Dr Chris Naunton
Egypt Exploration Society

February 2016

Title: Decoding Egyptian Art

Abstract: To come

Professor Alan Lloyd

There will be the opportunity to purchase second-hand books relating to Egyptology and history this evening; all proceeds will go to the Friends of the Egypt Centre.

Wednesday 16 March 2016
Memorial Lecture

Title: The Mummy Trial

Abstract: Around 3000 years ago the Chantress of Amun, Iwesemhesetmut, passed over to the west, to dwell forever in the land of the gods.  Should we display her carefully mummified body, or ‘hide’ it in the museum stores? You, the jury, will decide.*

Presented by the Egypt Centre staff and volunteers with the Friends of the Egypt Centre.

This is a ticketed event.  Tickets for this exciting and innovative night will be limited so book early to avoid disappointment.  Tickets are free to current Friends.  Guests/non-members £5.  Wine and cheese will be served during the interval.

Please note: this event will be from 7 – 9 pm.

* This is a fictional scenario designed to raise awareness of issues surrounding display of human remains- unfortunately the body of the Chantress was destroyed many years ago.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Title: In Bed with the Egyptians

Abstract: In this talk we will go behind the bedroom doors of the ancient Egyptians to investigate the most intimate moments of their lives. We will discover what they found attractive, general approaches to sex, pre, post and extra-marital. We will also discover what the consequences of sex were; both positive and negative.

Charlotte Booth
PhD Candidate
University of Birmingham

Book Signing: After the lecture, there will be opportunities to buy a signed copy of Charlotte’s newly published book.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Title: Snakes Alive!

Abstract: EES Trustee Dr Linda Steynor explores the use of figurative language in the enjoyable but enigmatic Ancient Egyptian poem, The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor. She highlights issues of accessibility and appreciation and illustrates the hidden complexities of the Sailor’s apparently simple ‘tall tale’, showing how his word-pictures offer a moral compass and provide a strategy for coping with the vicissitudes of life, as relevant now as for the Ancient Egyptian.

Dr Linda Steynor
Trustee of the Egypt Exploration Society.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Talk: Egypt in England

Abstract: More than two hundred years of the cultural legacy of Ancient Egypt, expressed through Egyptian style architecture in England. Mock temples, pyramids, and obelisks. The What, Where, and Why of buildings ranging from mill to mausoleum and cinema to synagogue.

Book signing: There will be an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of Chris’ book after the talk.

Chris Elliott is the author of Egypt in England.  He is a member of the Society of Authors and the Egypt Exploration Society, does tours and walks around London and has appeared on the TV series ‘How London was Built’.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Horizon Features Egypt Centre Animal Mummies

Sometime ago I featured as a guest blogger for the Egypt Centre and reported on some exciting news about the collaboration between the Museum, Swansea University Engineering Department and the Medical Department who were all working together to x-ray some of the animal mummies that are in the collection.

The excitement continues in that the results are to feature on a Horizon programme on 11th May at 9pm on BBC Two.  A preview of "70 Million Animal Mummies: Egypt's Dark Secret can be found here.

To read my blog post on the project, click here

70 Million Animal Mummies: Egypt's Dark Secret

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

An Oxford weekend of Egyptian mummies, ghosts, gargoyles and curses!

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Oxford.  Primarily the trip was to visit the Discovering Tutankhamun exhibition at the Ashmolean Musueum, but my husband, friend and myself were determined to pack in as much as we could in the 2 days we had there.

First experience of the weekend was our accommodation.  We decided to stay at Keble College, which is conveniently placed right opposite the Pitt Rivers Museum.  Hubby and I asked for a quad facing room and when we walked into the Porter's Lodge, we were delighted with the view.  Impressive facades, rolling green lawns and plenty of gargoyles to lend a gothic touch to the scene.  Then we saw our room….
Keble College
Mummy at the Pitt Rivers
…the word 'tired' comes to mind but perhaps that does't quite cut it.  'Exhausted' is perhaps a better description!  Stark bare walls, dark brown furniture and a carpets that I was reluctant to walk on barefooted in case I stuck to it.  And as to the bathroom…a good dollop of bleach would have been a nice touch.  My friend Caroline had been disappointed that she was in the newer building accommodation and hadn't got a quad facing view…until she saw our room.  It took her a full 5 minutes to stop laughing!  The view was good though, and we had our own gargoyle facing us for good measure.  It is certainly an experience to stay here but be warned, it is very basic!

Being so close to the Pitt Rivers, I couldn't resist  going in, despite visiting only a few months ago.  I had more time here than my last visit, so enjoyed wandering around the National History Museum and touching exhibits (you are allowed to with some of the exhibits before anyone writes in to complain — in fact you are positively encouraged to).  Then entering into the Pitt Rivers museum, I was transported into a world of the gentleman collector - eclectic and crowded displays that are full of wonderful objects!  I love this place - if you are ever in Oxford, you should go.  It is an experience which will have you gasping with pleasure.

Bill Spectre and his tour group
The evening was equally fun!  For years I have wanted to do a ghost walk in Oxford and we chose Bill Spectre as our host for the night.  We were a mixed bunch - we 3 were joined by a couple in their thirties, a dad with his 2 young sons and a mom with five 13 year-old girls on a birthday party.  Meeting at Oxford Castle Unlocked, we spent two hours exploring part of Oxford that is rarely known, under the guidance of our most entertaining host.  We all laughed, gasped and were enthralled  (I won't spoil the ending but it was GOOD!)  The best £8 I have spent in a long while.

After a night on a surprisingly comfortable bed (basic but clean) and a brilliant breakfast in a Harry Potter style hall, we set off - tickets in hand - for the Ashmolean Museum.

The Discovering Tutankhamun exhibition presents visitors with a fresh look at the Tutankhamun story, using many of Howard Carter's original records and drawings taken from the archives of the Griffith Institute - upon Carter's death in 1939, his records were bequeathed to his niece who later gave them to the Griffith Institute.  Carter's documents provide exquisite detail about the excavation - they include diaries, excavation plans, conservation cards and many many pages of notes.  Carter's detailed plans of the site are especially beautifully, as are the large blow-up photos of the excavation taken by Harry Burton. I especially loved the detailed watercolours done by Winifred Brunton which are beautifully executed on ivory!  Another display favourite of mine were the letters sent to Carter and Carnarvon after the tomb had been found - the request for a souvenir from the tomb, complete with postal order should the sender be lucky enough to obtain an object, is especially captivating!  There is also a room dedicated to Egyptomania from the 1920s where items such as clothing, music sheets and jewellery -  all inspired by the Tutankhamun find - are all on display.  I took special delight in spotting the name of my friend, Dr Jasmine Day, on the labels highlighting her lovely Egyptian revival memorabilia and jewellery.

The exhibition is very interactive - there is a video to watch, audio and music to listen to and things to play with!   It takes the visitor through the whole of Tutankhamun's story -  from his place in history, to the initial search by Theodore Davis and Edward Ayrton; the partnership of Carnarvon and Carter, the find and excavation and the effect of the discovery on popular culture.  Overall, it is a must see exhibition!!!  I cannot speak more highly of it.  It is well worth the money and is very well curated.  The exhibition brochure is also a must to buy, as photographs are not permitted within the exhibition.  The publication is well worth the £15 cost (£15 if you have a ticket; £20 if you don't).

After visiting the exhibition and spending rather too much in the exhibition shop (I can recommend the King Tut lemon curd by the way!), we had time to kill before attending a lecture by Joyce Tyldesley on Tutankhamum's Curse back at the Ashmolean.  That was when things got a bit hairy.  Eating outside a a lovely cafe - right by the scene of an execution (I learnt that titbit from the previous night!) - a wasp got into hubby's sandwich and he bit in.  The wasp stung his tongue before he could spit it out.  Two antihistamines and a trip to a pharmacist later, he was at the lecture sipping ice and mumbling about Tutankhamun's curse being real! Hmmmmm…..a later cancelled train and an accidental sitting on an ant's nest while waiting for the next train made us think he might possibly have had a point!

Site of the execution cross, taken just before that sting!

The Discovering Tutankhamun exhibition runs until 2 November 2014 (not on Mondays).  For details see their web-site here:

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Watch this space...

I've been kind of missing my blog posts so I have decided to resurrect them alongside Twitter.  I will be using Twitter for quick information about news, conferences and exhibitions, together with random items.  The Twitter feed will still continue on the blog page.  Here at the blog I will be sharing ongoing research thoughts, book and exhibition reviews and featuring some guest posts.

I've have already started writing my next watch this space!


Monday, 17 February 2014

Blog news/ Twitter and Facebook

Hey folks.

Due to thesis commitments I have taken the decision to suspend new blog entries for the foreseeable future to concentrate on deadlines.  I will however be continuing with both Twitter (Bev Rogers@CollectingEgypt) and Facebook (Collecting Egypt) where I will be posting updates with links...join me there to avoid missing the latest news!

Alternatively, for those that are not on either Twitter or Facebook, I have added a Twitter feed to the right hand side of the blog where you can see my recent Tweets.

Thanks for continuing to follow me!