Take a Peek!

Jocelyn Miyara, UCL MA student Egyptian Archaeology

Hi Petrie Blog! I've just finished up a year of volunteering in the Petrie while studying for an MA in Egyptian Archaeology at UCL. Volunteering has been a great way to balance out my time in the classroom and the library with some time looking at and handling real ancient artifacts. Since I had a bit of prior experience with photography, I was able to help out with photographing object marks for the Artefacts of Excavation project. The marks we were hunting for compirsed numbers and letters written onto the objects by archaeologists in Egypt and act like codes that provide valuable clues as to which site and context an object is from.

I started my object photography by taking some photos of reconstructed glass vessels. These beautiful pieces are not normally on display and were truly a treat, even though they were a bit scary to handle! For this one you can even see the craftsmanship of the vessel with the bulbous intrusion that often happens when glass is blown. You may recognize this shape from modern day wine bottles. While they are usually cast, they are styled after hand blown vessels.  

Next, I started helping out with Artefacts of Excavation and while finding some of the object marks we also stumbled across some beautiful treasures that are hidden from the public view. One of the first awe inspiring finds was a collection of three stone (greywacke) leaves from Abydos (pictured: UC37064; not pictured: UC37063 and UC37084). Along with the sketches to reconstruct the leaves is an example leaf from modern times placed in its own archival paper. The detail in these is incredible, from the veining to the feathered edges.

On our final day of searching for object marks we stumbled upon this drawer full of faces in plaster. The two on the left in particular have hairstyles imitating Greco-Roman rulers! The face in the back right corner has inlaid eyes (possibly in glass), a technique used to make her face look more realistic. Finding a drawer full of life-sized faces was certainly a thrilling way to finish of a year of volunteering!

I truly had an amazing time peeking into the cabinets at the Petrie Museum and seeing some of its hidden treasures.