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Research visit to Liverpool

23 Jan 2023

Last week, Julie Dawson and Helen Strudwick travelled to Liverpool to look at Middle Kingdom coffins and coffin fragments housed in the Garstang Museum and World Museum. We were looking at the way these coffins had been constructed and decorated.

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CT scanning at Addenbrooke's Hospital

08 Jan 2023

This morning, we were able to undertake new CT scanning of part of the coffin set of Nespawershefyt. Although we have X-radiographed the mummy board in the past, its construction was not absolutely clear. Colleagues at Addenbrooke’s Hospital (part of Cambridge University Hospitals) generously offered to CT scan it out of hours, on a Sunday morning when the scanner would not normally be in use. We were very conscious that the scanner might be needed if there was a call for an emergency CT scan to be carried out, in which case we would have immediately got out of the way to allow that to happen. Happily nothing like that occurred. We were joined by our brilliant CT scanning advisor and friend Tom Turmezei, Consultant Radiologist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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New publication in CIPEG Journal

28 Oct 2021

A new journal article on the project’s Pop-Up Museum project, co-authored by Melanie Pitkin, Helen Strudwick, Julie Dawson and Sara Hany Abed, is now available online. The article, titled ‘Engaging Audiences in Areas of Low Cultural Provision. The Concept of the Pop-Up Museum Experience’ has been published in Issue 4 (2020) of the ICOM-CIPEG journal. To access the article see here, and for the paper’s abstract see below.

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How to make an Egyptian coffin in Arabic

28 Sep 2021

Good news! How to make an Egyptian Coffin is now available in Arabic and can be downloaded here

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Reviving the art of ancient Egyptian mummy portraits

02 Nov 2020

In late 2019, members of the Fitzwilliam Egyptian Coffins team were generously awarded funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for the project titled Reviving the art of ancient Egyptian mummy portraits in Cairo and the Faiyum: a curatorial, conservation and community collaboration. As the title suggests, we are collaborating with colleagues at the Egyptian Museum Cairo (EMC), Kom Aushim Museum in the Faiyum, and staff from the Ministry of Antiquities in a project to empower them with deep knowledge about how the Faiyum mummy portraits were made and decorated, enabling them to incorporate this knowledge in their interpretation materials of their collections for museum audiences and local communities. It will also give craftsmen in the Faiyum region a chance to connect more profoundly with their local heritage through a deeper understanding of the skills of the creators of these objects, giving them the potential opportunity to revive this ancient craft and boost their income and tourism to the area.

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Vale Jennifer Marchant

26 Jun 2020

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Jennifer (Jenny) Marchant (1979-2020). Jenny was a Conservator of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum and played a pivotal part in the Fitzwilliam Egyptian coffins project. In this post we pay tribute to Jenny and share some reflections on her personal and professonal life.

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Coffins outreach in Damietta and Alexandria, Egypt

26 Nov 2019

As you’d recall from an earlier post (which you can read about here), in July 2019, some of the Fitzwilliam’s Egyptian coffins team travelled to Cairo to trial their successful ‘Pop-Up’ Museum. One of the key venues during this trip was the Pinocchio furniture showroom in Maadi, a high-end furniture store owned by Amr Orensa and Marwa Medhat that produces many handcrafted wooden pieces inspired by ancient Egyptian designs. The success of this visit, which was co-delivered with colleagues from the Egyptian Museum Cairo, led to some exciting new discussions with Amr and Marwa about bringing the ‘Pop-Up’ back to Egypt, but outside Cairo to the less densely populated Mediterranean coastal town of Damietta.

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Vice-Chancellor's Award recognition

14 Oct 2019

The Fitzwilliam Egyptian coffins team has been awarded the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Research Impact and Engagement Award in the collaboration category for our outreach work on ancient Egyptian coffins. The award, which has been presented annually since 2016, recognises outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity in devising and implementing ambitious engagement and impact plans which have the potential to create significant economic, social and cultural impact from and engagement with and for research. In particular, the award recognised the project team’s major 2016 exhibition ‘Death on the Nile: Uncovering the afterlife of ancient Egypt’, the ‘Pop-Up’ Museum targeting underserved audiences in England and Egypt and this digital resource. As part of the award we received £1000 which will be used towards co-running a coffins making workshop at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and series of ‘Pop-Up’ Museums in Damietta, Egypt with our Egyptian Museum colleagues next month.

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Digital 3D animation of Nespawershefyt's coffin box

09 Sep 2019

With the generous support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Postdoctoral Research Associate Melanie Pitkin had the opportunity to work with creative industry partner ThinkSee3D to produce a digital 3D animation of Nespawershefyt’s inner coffin box generated from the CT scans. The animation forms one of the main body’s of work produced as part of Melanie’s Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship (CEEF), which you can read more about here.

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2019 ICOM-CIPEG meeting in Kyoto

06 Sep 2019

As part of the 2019 ICOM-CIPEG annual meeting in Kyoto, Japan (2-7 September), Helen Strudwick and Melanie Pitkin delivered a paper (by proxy) titled ‘Engaging audiences in areas of low cultural provision: The concept of the ‘Pop-Up’ museum experience’. You can now view this full presentation with narration here.

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Pop-Up Museum in Cairo

24 Jul 2019

A small team from the Fitzwilliam Egyptian coffins project recently travelled to Cairo (July 16-22, 2019) to pilot their successful ‘Pop-Up’ Egyptian Coffins Museum with colleagues at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. The team comprised Helen Strudwick, Melanie Pitkin, Charlotte Thompson-Mitchell and our local contact and Project Manager in Egypt, Sara Hany Abed.

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Coffins workshop in Cairo

02 Jul 2019

Between 15-22nd June, six members of the Fitzwilliam Egyptian coffins team travelled to Cairo to undertake the second phase of a knowledge transfer project (generously funded by a grant from the Global Challenges Research Fund) to work with curators and conservators at the Egyptian Museum Cairo on their internationally significant collection of ancient Egyptian coffins (for phase one of the project, see here). The members of the team were Helen Strudwick, Julie Dawson, Geoffrey Killen, Elsbeth Geldhof, Daniel Pett and Melanie Pitkin. This phase of the project focused on the successful delivery of a 4-day coffin making workshop where 27 participants from the Egyptian Museum Cairo had the opportunity to learn (in a very hands-on fashion!) aspects of ancient Egyptian woodworking, painting, coffin identification and methods for their interpetation and analysis.

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An Intern's Experience of the Pop-up Museum

24 Jun 2019

Hello, my name is Charlotte Thompson-Mitchell and I am an intern working on the Fitzwilliam Egyptian Coffins Project. Since March I have been helping to share current research into ancient Egyptian coffins in Wisbech through a Pop-Up Museum.

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Pop-Up Museum in the Wetherspoon News

07 Jun 2019

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s Pop-Up Egyptian coffins project has been featured in the 2019 summer edition of the Wetherspoon News! The Wetherspoon News is the official magazine of the UK and Ireland pub chain J D Wetherspoon (affectionately known as Spoons), which was founded in 1979 and today comprises almost 900 pubs. The article appears on page 55 and reads:

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Special viewing of Pakepu's coffin set

15 Apr 2019

On Friday 24th and Saturday 25th May, 2019, the Museum is organising a FREE special viewing of the 25th Dynasty coffin set of Pakepu. Experience the coffin set outside its usual glass showcase alongside Egyptologists and conservators who have been studying the coffins first hand. Entry is by timed ticket only, so please click on the link here to reserve your place.

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Pop-Up Museum in the BBC news

29 Mar 2019

On Tuesday 26th March, the Egyptian Coffins ‘Pop-Up’ team were interviewed by John Devine of BBC Cambridgeshire News. You can see the full coverage here.

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Pop-Up Museum in Wisbech

27 Mar 2019

With the generous support of Cambridge University’s Arts and Humanities Impact Fund, the Fitzwilliam Egyptian Coffins Project will be ‘popping-up’ in a range of surprise venues across Wisbech between now and the end of June. This includes a pub, supermarket, shopping centre, hardware store, community centre and schools. The idea is to trial bringing aspects of the Museum’s research into communities that might not otherwise be aware of, or have access to, our work. The pop-up includes some real ancient Egyptian objects from the Museum’s collection, replica tools and joints explaining ancient Egyptian carpentry, demonstrations in how to make and use your own ancient Egyptian paintbrush and the chance to speak to real Egyptologists and conservators. While the aim is to suprise our audiences, due to popular demand, shortly before they happen, we will be revealing upcoming venues, dates and times here, as well as on the Fitzwilliam Museum’s official Facebook and Twitter channels.

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Launch of the Egyptian Coffins project website

20 Mar 2019

The Fitzwilliam Museum reveals the results of its in-depth study of its ancient Egyptian coffins collection. A new website, The Egyptian Coffins Project, featuring high-resolution images, films, virtual models and technical reports of the construction and decoration of coffins is now available (March 2019). Website users will be able to discover ancient Egyptian coffins like never before! The website launch is accompanied by a series of pop-up events in secret locations in and around Wisbech.

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New collaborative project with the Egyptian Museum Cairo

08 Mar 2019

The first phase of a project (generously funded by a grant from the Global Challenges Research Fund) to work with curators and conservators at the Egyptian Museum Cairo (EMC) began in February 2019. A small team from the Fitzwilliam Egyptian Coffins Project (Helen Strudwick, Julie Dawson, Melanie Pitkin and Daniel Pett) travelled to Cairo last month (25 February to 2 March, 2019) to deliver a series of lectures to EMC colleagues currently engaged in their own coffins research project. The project arose from Melanie’s earlier trip to Cairo and Mansoura in October 2018 during which she soft launched the Fitzwilliam Museum’s new online Egyptian coffins resource. At that time, many attendees expressed interest in learning further from the Museum’s research, particularly from a methodological perspective, and sharing collections knowledge and experience, so that we might be able to work collaboratively.

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Melanie Pitkin reports on her visit to Cairo and Mansoura

19 Oct 2018

Between 9-18th October, I travelled to Egypt with the support of a Marlay Travel Grant to share the latest research for the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Egyptian Coffins Project and soft launch the project’s new online resource. Particular focus was placed on the findings of two coffin sets from the Museum’s collection - the 21st Dynasty yellow coffin set of Nespawershefyt and the 25th Dynasty coffin set of Pakepu, in order to highlight the types of discoveries that we have made by taking a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to the study of ancient Egyptian coffins. That is, one that brings together advanced imaging techniques, such as Computed Tomography (CT) scanning and X-radiography, with a range of subject specialists, including Egyptologists, conservators, a pigment specialist, an expert in ancient woodworking techniques, an expert in historical painting techniques and a consultant radiologist.

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How to make an Egyptian coffin

10 Oct 2018

Our latest book, featuring the work of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Egyptian coffins project, has just been published.

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Complex layered structures on Pakepu's inner coffin

10 Oct 2018

At the Second Vatican Coffin Conference in 2017, the Fitzwilliam Museum’s coffins project team presented a paper about a striking feature of the inner coffin of Pakepu.

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