Photo: the collection of Aquila Dodgson has come back to Leeds. Photo: Bryan Sitch. Courtesy Leeds Museums and Galleries.
In April 2004 we offered 24 Hour Museum readers a taste of the forthcoming Leeds City Heritage Guide.
With the help of local student journalists, we picked out a few slices of museum and gallery life in the city.
Leeds Museums and Galleries has acquired an extraordinary collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, including figurines of deities, amulets, bead necklaces and scarabs.
Thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the local Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, the 120-piece collection is set to go on display at Leeds Museums Resource Centre.
Photo: carved in the shape of a baboon this lid of a Canopic jar represents the ancient Egyptian god Hapy. The lungs were placed in this vessel as part of the funerary rights of the ancient Egyptians. Photo: Bryan Sitch. Courtesy Leeds Museums and Galleries.
"This is without doubt the most important Egyptology acquisition for Leeds in the last 50 years," said Cllr Judith Blake, Leeds Council Executive Member for Learning and Leisure.
The collection was originally put together by Aquila Dodgson (1829-1919) who, in the late 19th century bought items from such famous Egyptologists as Sir Flinders Petrie and Amelia Edwards.
At the time Aquila was Honorary Librarian to the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, the organisation that founded Leeds City Museum. He later died in Headingly and his collection passed on to his son.
Photo: a wooden shabti or model worker dating back to 1405 BC, which was found in the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings. Photo: Bryan Sitch. Courtesy Leeds Museums and Galleries.
Although some of it was donated to the city’s museums, a large number of artefacts were sold privately and taken to London by their most recent owner many years ago.
Bryan Sitch, Curator of Archaeology at Leeds Museums, told the 24 Hour Museum what it means to finally have the collection back in the city.
"We are so delighted to have it and be able to display it to the public to capture the interest of budding Egyptologists out there," he said.
Among the artefacts is a canopic jar lid carved in the shape of a baboon and a wooden shabti or model worker dated c.1405 BC, which was found in the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings.
Photo: kohl pots were used by ancient Egyptians to hold the elaborate make-up, which they painted around their eyes. Photo: Bryan Sitch. Courtesy Leeds Museums and Galleries.
In some cases even the date of excavation is known. Much of the material dates from the Saite or Ptolemaic periods (from around 650 BC to 30 BC) but there is one stunning intact pre-dynastic jar dating from about 4000 BC.
The museum already has a few objects from the collection and now the rest of it will help complement one of the most important ancient Egyptian collections in the country.
Perhaps most famous of all Leeds Museums’ Egyptian items is Natsef Amun, the 3,000-year-old mummified remains of a priest from the Temple of Karnak.
"Together with the mummy," said Bryan, "we are able to put together quite a representative picture of what life was like in ancient Egypt. Not just the funerary, but everyday life."
Photo: Photo: Bryan Sitch. Courtesy Leeds Museums and Galleries.
The collection was secured thanks to a £6,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a £1,000 donation from the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society as well as money from the museums own acquisitions budget.
On display at the Leeds Museums Resource Centre until 2005, the artifacts will eventually form part of an Egyptian collection at the New City Museum, set to open in 2007.