Man standing in storeroom looking at a wooden Egyptian coffin.

The coffin which dates back 2,800 years which has come to Swansea as part of the Harrogate collection.

A host of rare Egyptian antiquities has arrived in Swansea ready to go on display to the public and be studied by University experts for the first time.

The award-winning Egypt Centre on the Singleton Campus will be home to a collection of more than 700 Egyptian items on loan from Harrogate Museums for the next three years. 

The collection includes a Third Intermediate Period (c. 1000-700 BC) coffin, stone stelae, a large collection of pottery, amulets and shabtis as well as a renowned Anubis mask which is the only one of its kind in the world. 

The loan came about after Egypt Centre volunteer, and former Swansea University student, Sam Powell, visited Harrogate Museum as part of her PhD research on wooden tomb figures. While discussing the Egypt Centre collection, its object-based learning approach and online catalogue, the curators at Harrogate saw an opportunity for their collection to undergo research by experts in Swansea. 

Egypt Centre curator Ken Griffin said the project - Rediscovering Egypt - provides an ideal opportunity for the collection to become more well-known to researchers. 

Dr Griffin said: “The Harrogate loan is a major coup and reflects Swansea University’s position as a leading institution for Egyptological research. Having the collection here will allow us to refresh the Egypt Centre’s displays, while also making the objects available to researchers from across the globe.

 “And, in the year that the Egypt Centre celebrates its 25th anniversary, it is rather fitting that this loan is taking place now.” 

Swansea University has four Egyptologists on staff, two at the Egypt Centre. It is one of only a handful of UK universities offering Egyptology and the museum’s collection plays an integral role in learning and teaching.

Christian Knoblauch, lecturer in Egyptian Material Culture, added: “This loan is a hugely important addition to our Egyptology provision and training and will further cement Swansea’s unique status at the centre of Welsh Egyptology. It will provide our students with new opportunities for the type of object-based teaching that we are championing here at Swansea. 

“It is especially exciting as much of the collection has not yet been systematically studied so it will also open up opportunities for new collaborations leading to original research. 

“It is an honour and privilege to receive this loan and is an excellent example of the University collaborating with regional museums to increase accessibility and awareness of local collections.” 

Visitor & Cultural Services Manager at Harrogate Museums May Catt said: “This is a fantastic chance for us to be able to learn important information about the collection and where it came from. We look forward to being able to share this with visitors of all ages, both digitally and through new exhibitions and displays.

“We are fortunate to have such rare and exciting antiquities at Harrogate Museum and our project with Swansea University offers us a wonderful opportunity to showcase our museum’s cultural significance on an international platform. 

“We are particularly pleased to be involved with this exciting project this year, which marks the 70th birthday of the Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate.” 

While in Swansea, the Harrogate collection will be showcased in three temporary exhibitions at the Egypt Centre. Additionally, it will be hosted on an online platform, similar to the Egypt Centre’s, so that it can be accessible to audiences throughout the world. 

Read more about the collection in Ken Griffin’s latest blog


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