About the Project

An overview of the Harrogate Egyptian project
Man standing in storeroom looking at a wooden Egyptian coffin.
Egypt Centre Curator Dr Ken Griffin examining a wooden coffin on arrival from Harrogate

The story of the Harrogate loan coming to Swansea is a long one. Back in July 2022, our award winning volunteer Sam Powell, visited Harrogate to examine a wooden tomb figure (HARGM7673),as part of her ongoing PhD research. During discussions with Harrogate curators, Sam told them about the Egypt Centre, the museum’s object-based learning approach, and our collaboration with colleagues teaching Classics, Ancient History, and Egyptology at Swansea. Sam also showed them our fantastic online collection catalogue, which is hosted on the Abaset platform she created. As the Harrogate collection had been largely understudied (research and analysis of a selection of objects had been previously undertaken by Prof. Joanne Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley), the curators thought that this might be an opportunity to send it to Swansea on loan. Discussions took place shortly after, and May Catt (Visitor & Cultural Services Manager) visited the Egypt Centre in September 2022 to see the museum and our storage. Impressed with our facilities and resources in Swansea, discussions progressed, loan agreements were drawn up, objects were removed from display and carefully packed, and couriers (Constantine) were tasked with the transportation of the objects.

The Anubis mask being carefully unpacked

On Tuesday 28th February 2023, over 800 objects arrived in Swansea from Harrogate Museums, where they will remain on loan for the next three years. During this time, the collection will be researched, displayed, and presented online, thus making the objects more accessible to Egyptologists and the wider public. Three temporary exhibitions are planned during this time, each running for approximately six months. The first is entitled Causing Their Names to Live, which takes inspiration from a common vivification formula found on statues, stelae, and other objects. In fact, one of the statues on loan from Harrogate (HARGM10634) is dedicated by Nebamun to his daughter Senetre “in order to cause her name to live”. This exhibition will be opened in October 2023, with two further displays on the Ogden (2024) and Kent (2025) collections.

To document the Harrogate loan, a series of eleven videos were beautifully captured and produced by Katie Greenhalf and Gary Lawson of This Film Production Ltd. These help to record some of the stories relating to the Harrogate collection that were uncovered in the first few months of the loan and can be viewed below.

01 Packing up
This video presents the packing up of the Egyptian collection at Harrogate Museum ahead of its transfer to the Egypt Centre (Swansea University) in February 2023. It features Harrogate Museum staff, May Catt and Karen Southworth, who discuss the plans for the loan:

02 Why Swansea?
Egypt Centre volunteer Sam Powell discusses how her visit to Harrogate Museum in July 2022 led to the Egyptian collection coming to Swansea University in February 2023.

03 Typology
This video presents an interview of Egypt Centre volunteer Sam Powell about her PhD research on the typology of ancient Egyptian tomb models.

04 The Catalogue
In this video, Egypt Centre volunteer and Abaset Collections Ltd founder Sam Powell introduces the new Harrogate online catalogue, which launches in October 2023. This catalogue will present over 800 objects to a global audience in a new and accessible way.

05 Anubis
In this video, the Egypt Centre's Volunteer Manager, Syd Howells, presents the most famous object in the Harrogate collection, the cartonnage mask of the jackal god Anubis. The mask is already a big hit with our volunteers and visitors!

06 Goose Fat
In this video, the Egypt Centre's Curator, Ken Griffin, presents an interesting ostracon mentioning the request for some goose fat. Things don't always go so smoothly. Just a typical day in the life of the workmen from the village of Deir el-Medina c. 1250 BC!

07 Fragments
In this video, the Egypt Centre's Curator, Ken Griffin, presents what initially seemed like an uninteresting fragment of wood from the Harrogate collection. However, it turns out that this fragment has a close connection to the Egypt Centre collection, which was previously unknown!

08 Numbers In this video, the Egypt Centre's Collections Access Manager, Meg Gundlach, discusses the issue of numbering. This includes the importance of documentation, which is often associated with objects.

09 Object Based Learning
The Egypt Centre has been a strong advocate of object-based learning (OBL) since opening to the public in 1998. In this video, the Egypt Centre's Collections Access Manager, Meg Gundlach, discusses the importance and benefits of object-based learning. Students involved in the Swansea University Pottery Project (SUPP) are shown cataloguing the pottery from the Harrogate collection.

10 Causing Their Names to Live
Over the course of the Harrogate loan, the Egypt Centre will be hosting three temporary exhibitions. The first one (starting October 2023) is called Causing Their Names to Live, which borrows its name from the common Egyptian expression often found on monuments dedicated to a deceased relative. In this video, the Egypt Centre's Curator, Ken Griffin, discusses the statue of a lady called Senetre, which carries this type of dedication.

11 Crazy Coincidence
Since the Harrogate collection arrived at the Egypt Centre in February 2023, many exciting stories have been uncovered by the Egypt Centre staff. Perhaps the most interesting—and a somewhat crazy coincidence—revolves around a beautiful faience shabti of Seti I. What could it be?