Since the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in February 1923 by Howard Carter and George Herbert, a fascination with the mystery of ancient Egypt has gripped generations. At Maidstone Museum, we’re pleased to house a number of artefacts from this most fascinating of eras.
The Egyptian collection of almost 600 objects is the largest in Kent, and explores ancient Egyptian culture with an emphasis on their obsession with death. The types of objects include amulets, canopic jars, coffins, coins, flints, glass vessels, jewellery, mummified animal and human remains, pottery, scarabs, shabtis, stelae (stone), textiles, and wooden figures. It also includes surplus material from British excavations in Egypt, with small donations from travellers who had purchased the objects from antiquities dealers, and collectors of curiosities.
Maidstone Museum’s mummy
Undoubtedly the star of Maidstone Museum’s Egyptian collection is the only human mummy in Kent, ‘The Lady of the House, Ta-Kesh, Daughter of Osiris, Pa-Muta; her mother Lady of the House, Shy’. She was 14 years old when she died c.700-650BC (25th or 26th Dynasty). Her 2,700-year-old mummy was brought to England in the 1820s. This would have had an inner and outer coffin, but only the inner wooden coffin reached the museum in the 19th century. In 1843, she was unwrapped and studied by Samuel Birch of the British Museum, and a local doctor, Hugh Welch Diamond. She was then presented to Mr Charles by his cousin, Dr Diamond, and entered the private Charles Museum in Maidstone.
- Alexandria (founded by Alexander the Great)
- El-Amrah (MacIver and Wilkins with the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1900-1901)
- Ballas (Quibell and Petrie, 1894-1895)
- Beni Hasan (Garstang with Liverpool University, 1902-1904)
- Fayum (Seton-Karr, 1901)
- Ehnasya (Petrie with the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1904)
- Hierakonpolis (prehistoric royal residence of the kings of Upper Egypt – Quibell, Green and Clarke with the Egyptian Research Account, 1897-1899, received 1899)
- Naqada (the large quantity of remains from Naqada have enabled the dating of the entire culture, throughout Egypt and environs – Petrie, 1894-1895)
- Thebes (now Luxor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site including the Ramesseum)
It is not only the sites and finds which are significant, but also the archaeologists undertaking these excavations, and whose approach helped shape the practice of archaeology and our understanding of the fascinating ancient Egyptian culture. Renowned names such as Garstang (a British archaeologist of the ancient Near East, especially Anatolia and the southern Levant, working with Liverpool University); Seton-Karr (a specialist in ancient Egyptian lithics or flint tools); Flinders Petrie (often referred to as one of the founding fathers of Egyptology); and the Egypt Exploration Society (founded in 1882 to explore ancient Egyptian sites and monuments, to create a lasting record of the remains).
Additional finds from these sites can also be found at institutions such as the British Museum, Liverpool University, University College London, and Brighton Museum, in addition to Cairo Museum.