Statue of Per-her-nefret from Tarkhan

Statue of Per-her-nefret from Tarkhan

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Chagatai Khan

Chagatai Khan (Mongolian: Цагадай , romanized: Tsagadai Middle Mongol: ᠴᠠᠭᠠᠲᠠᠶ Čaɣatay Uighur: چاغاتايخان , Chaghatay-Xan Chinese: 察合台 , Chágětái Turkish: Çağatay Persian: جغتای ‎, Joghatai 22 December 1183 – 1 July 1242) was the second son of Genghis Khan and Börte. He inherited most of what are now five Central Asian states after the death of his father. [1] He was also appointed by Genghis Khan to oversee the execution of the Yassa, the written code of law created by Genghis Khan. [2]


The word Takht-i-Bahi may have different explanations. Local believes that site got its name from two wells on the hill or the springs nearby. In Persian, Takht means 'top' or 'throne' while bahi means 'spring' or 'water'. When combined together its meaning is 'spring from the top' or 'high spring', and there were two springs on the top of mountains. Another meaning suggested is 'throne of origin'. [4]

The ruins are located about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Mardan in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. [2] A small fortified city, dating from the same era, sits nearby. [1] The ruins also sit near a modern village known by the same name. [5] It is located around 150 metres (500 ft) atop the small hill and around 2 km (1.2 mi) from village bazar. [4] The surrounding area is famous for sugar cane, wheat, maize, vegetable, and orchard cultivation. Once remote and little visited, the site now has a road and car park, set some way below the ruins, and has become popular with visitors.

There are four main areas of the Takht Bahi complex:

  • The Stupa Court, a cluster of stupas located in a central courtyard. [3]
  • The monastic chambers, consisting of individual cells arranged around a courtyard, assembly halls, and a dining area. [3]
  • A temple complex, consisting of stupas and similar to the Stupa Court, but of later construction. [3]
  • The Tantric monastic complex, which consists of small, dark cells with low openings, which may have been used for certain forms of Tantric meditation. [3]

Additional structures on the site may have served as residences or meeting halls, or for secular purposes. [5] All of the buildings on the site are constructed from local stone, and are mortared with lime and mud. [5]

Archaeologists have divided the history of the complex into four periods, beginning in the 1st century BCE. [5]

The monastic complex was likely founded in the early 1st century CE. [1] It is proven by an inscriptions found bearing the name of Gondophares (20–46 CE). [4] After Gondophares, the place fell under control of Kujula Kadphises, [4] the first Kushan king. This first era continued until the 2nd century CE, and is associated with another Kushan king Kanishka, as well as early Parthian and later Kushan kings. [5] The second construction period, which included the creation of the Stupa Court and assembly hall, took place during the 3rd and 4th centuries CE. A third construction period, associated with the later Kushan dynasty and the Kidara Kushana rulers, occurred during the 4th and 5th centuries.

The region was runover by Huns in middle of fifth century CE which ended the Kushan rule there. The Hun Toramana and then his son Mihirakula unleashed genocide of the populace of Gandhara and a wholesale destruction of Buddhist monasteries. The Buddhist monastery of Takht-i-Bahi seems to have been destroyed in the same period of carnage by Huns. [6]

The complex nonetheless was in use until 7th century CE. [4]

The first modern historical reference to these ruins was made in 1836 by the French Officer, the Buddhist remains are in a village named Mazdoorabad. [5] Explorations and excavations on this site began in 1864. [5] A significant number of objects from the site can be found in the British Museum. [7] The site underwent a major restoration in the 1920s. [3]

The Incredible Story Behind The World’s Oldest Dress From Egypt That’s More Than 5,000 Years Old

Garments worn thousands of years ago have survived to the present day. Those garments were merely wrapped around the body. But the “Tarkhan Dress,” named for the town in Egypt where it was found in 1913, is beautifully stitched. About five years ago, it was precisely dated using the latest radiocarbon dating technology. Researchers determined that the linen dress with fine detail dates to between 3482 and 3103 B.C., making it the world’s oldest woven garment.

Textiles recovered from archaeological sites are generally no older than 2,000 years, Alice Stevenson, the curator of London’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, recently said. The Tarkhan Dress, however, dates back more than 5,000 years, and when it was new, it may have been longer, researchers said.

The Incredible Story Behind the World’s Oldest Dress from Egypt that’s more than 5,000 Years Old

Garments worn thousands of years ago have survived to the present day. Those garments were merely wrapped around the body. But the “Tarkhan Dress,” named for the town in Egypt where it was found in 1913, is beautifully stitched. About five years ago, it was precisely dated using the latest radiocarbon dating technology. Researchers determined that the linen dress with fine detail dates to between 3482 and 3103 B.C., making it the world’s oldest woven garment.

Textiles recovered from archaeological sites are generally no older than 2,000 years, Alice Stevenson, the curator of London’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, recently said. The Tarkhan Dress, however, dates back more than 5,000 years, and when it was new, it may have been longer, researchers said.

It was once part of a “large pile of dirty linen cloth” excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1913 at the site he named Tarkhan after a nearby village 30 miles south of Cairo, said. In 1977, researchers from the Victoria and Albert Museum were preparing to clean the large pile of dirty linen cloth when they discovered the Tarkhan Dress, finely made. Though there were creases at the elbows and armpits showing that someone once wore the dress, the V-neck linen shirt with pleated sleeves and bodice was in excellent condition despite its age.

The researchers conserved the fabric, sewed it onto Crepeline silk to stabilize it, and displayed it. Soon, it was being hailed as Egypt’s oldest garment and the oldest woven garment in the world largely due to the age of the tomb in which it was discovered. However, because the tomb in which the garment had been found had been plundered, researchers couldn’t provide a precise age to the dress.

In the 1980s when linen associated with the dress was analyzed using a new technology of accelerator mass spectrometry, it was believed to date to the late third millennium BC. But this date was too broad, according to researchers.

Out of the 10,000 odd objects in our Egyptology collection, when asked for a favourite I always come back to this bit of rag. I feel it connects with ancient Egypt far more than a granite statue, a mummified cat or a painted coffin.

This is nothing more than a linen rag, maybe torn from an old bed sheet or a worn-out tunic, rolled into a ball and tied into shape with a bit of string.

More like this

But it was a loved toy for some child, so much so that someone put it into the grave when the child died about 4,500 years ago.

It was the practice to put food, personal belongings and household goods with the dead, for their use in the afterlife.

The excavation report tells us nothing about the child buried in the grave, although the papers of the British School of Archaeology should have notes on their excavations of 1912 – research for a future date.

He or she was also buried with clay pots and a stone bowl, to ensure food and drink in the next world. But the parents added their ball, so they could play in the afterlife.

Many children in ancient Egypt died young. Parents tried amulets and magical spells to protect their children, but death came frequently despite this protection.

There are carved and painted images on tomb walls of children playing ball games. It is usually girls shown playing ball, so we might assume that our dead child was a girl.

She might have juggled with two or three balls, or played catch games with her friends.

Whenever I hold the ball in my hand, or look at it on display, I feel a real link with ancient Egypt. That ball was a toy for a child, was played with, was handled and thrown around by the child and her friends.

It wasn’t made especially for burial, or for show. It was made to be enjoyed.

I can admire the great stone carvings and the painted coffins, with all that they tell us about ancient Egypt and the customs and beliefs of the people.

But I always feel more connected through the smaller objects: the worn mallet that was used by a stone mason or carpenter the tunic woven and worn by someone the flowers placed on the coffin or the toys played with by children, first in life and then, as grave goods, for all eternity.


Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Bristol, City of Bristol

Bristol’s premier museum and art gallery houses important collections of minerals and fossils, natural history, eastern art, world wildlife, Egyptology, archaeology and fine and applied art.


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Ancient and classical cultures

Artefacts from the so-called Ancient and Classical Cultures are well represented in the collections of Iziko Museums of South Africa. These include artefacts from Egypt that date from the Predynastic to Graeco-Roman periods. The Predynastic and Early Dynastic artefacts, mainly pottery, are from Kafr-Tarkhan and were excavated by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853 – 1942). Petrie was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology. Petrie is also known as the ‘Father of Egyptology’. A catalogue of the Tarkhan ceramics within the Iziko collection was compiled by former Curator and current Research Associate, Anlen Boshoff. The collection also includes objects from Tell el-Amarna, which were excavated by Petrie, as well as artefacts excavated by Sir Guy Brunton (1878 – 1948).

Forming part of the Ancient Near Eastern collection are cuneiform tablets that are mostly of Neo-Babylonian origin, with one being Sumerian. These are mainly from the Offord collection and have been translated by Peter Hulin. They are mentioned in The Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar: its administration and its prosopography by A.C.V.M. Bongenaar published by ‘Het Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut’ in Istanbul in 1997. Babylonian and Akkadian cylinder seals from the De Pass collection are also represented. Dr R.M. van Dijk-Coombes published her research and findings on the cylinder seals in the Iziko collection in Akroterion 61 (2016).

Rome is also well presented in the Iziko collection by various items obtained by donation or purchase. The collection includes glass, ceramic lamps, medical instruments and other ceramic items.

From Greece is the popular and well-studied De Pass collection of Attic Red-figure and Attic Black-figure vases. Some of these vases are listed in Sir John Beazley’s books. John Boardman and Maurice Pope undertook published research on the vases (Greek Vases in Cape Town, South African Museum Guide no. 6, 1961). In more recent times Iziko’s Greek vase collection has been researched by Dr Samantha Masters and published in South Africa, Greece, Rome: Classical Confrontations (2017), edited by Prof. Grant Parker of Stanford University, USA.

Greek stamnos. Red-figure vase with designs of dancers. Attributed to the Chicago Painter. See Boardman and Pope p. 12 – 13, no. 14. Earthenware. Height 34cm. Iziko collection SACHM1339. Photograph by Carina Beyer.

Greek hydria. Red-figure vase with a depiction of the court of Dionysus, god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine. See Boardman and Pope p. 14 – 15, no. 16. Earthenware. Height 37,5cm. Iziko collection SACHM1327. Photograph by Carina Beyer.

Background to the ancient Egyptian collection at the Iziko Museums:
The Iziko Museums collection includes approximately 400 artefacts from ancient Egypt – many of which became part of Iziko’s collection over a century ago. A majority of the artefacts were acquired through donations in the early 20th century by the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, the Egypt Exploration Fund, and British Egyptologists Sir Flinders Petrie and his student Guy Brunton. The rest of the collection comprises donations from South African collectors and the occasional purchase, mostly acquired in the mid-20th century. The collection is small but comprehensive, incorporating artefacts from the Predynastic to Roman times. Approximately 90 objects are currently on public display.

The majority of artefacts in Iziko’s collection are from excavations carried out by British archaeologist and Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853 – 1942).

Sir Flinders Petrie made valuable contributions to Egyptian archaeology through his discoveries and methods used. In the late 19th century, most early archaeologists had little scientific expertise their goal was to find beautiful objects rather than carry out controlled excavations where the context of the found object was as important as the object itself. However, Petrie was much more thorough and careful in his excavations, and took detailed notes and measurements. Paying as much attention to small and ordinary objects as he did to the beautiful and impressive, Petrie paved the way for a better understanding of the lives of everyday Egyptians. He is also credited with the discovery of Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt and with the creation of a scientific archaeological method called ‘sequence dating’.

Of the various objects held by the Iziko Museums, the most notable group is the assemblage of late Predynastic and Early Dynastic artefacts from Petrie’s excavations at Kafr-Tarkhan (situated south of Cairo). Petrie’s excavations here were done over two seasons: from 1911 to 1912, and from 1912 to 1913. Over 2 000 ancient grave sites were excavated at Kafr-Tarkhan – and most found artefacts date back to Naqada III and Dynasty 1 (c. 3325 – 2667 BCE). During this time, Egypt was undergoing a transition from different autonomous regions to a unified state – and the site of Kafr-Tarkhan provided key evidence for creating a chronological framework to understand this transition, including inscriptions revealing the identity of some of Egypt’s earliest kings. Kafr-Tarkhan has also provided the earliest evidence, so far, for the usage of the hieratic script (a cursive version of hieroglyphs).

The Kafr-Tarkhan collection includes ceramic and stone vessels, linen, basketry, fragments of wooden furniture, cosmetic accessories such as slate palettes and spoons, fragments of stone, metal tools, beads and bone bangles.

Slate palette. Excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie at Kafr-Tarkhan. Dynasty 1.
Iziko collection SACHM1895.

Sir Flinders Petrie had a South African connection. His paternal grandparents, Margaret Mitten and William Petrie, resided at the Cape Colony for about ten years from 1829. One of their sons, William Petrie Junior, married Anne Flinders, daughter of Ann Chappell and Captain Matthew Flinders (1774 –1814), the explorer and cartographer of Australia. Their only child, William Matthew Flinders Petrie was born on 3rd June 1853.

Another South African connection is that of Winifred Brunton (née Newberry 1880 – 1959) and her husband Guy Brunton (1878 – 1948). Winifred Newberry* was the daughter of a wealthy South African miner, and she married Guy Brunton in 1906 when the latter was living in South Africa. Both Guy and Winnie studied Egyptology at University College, London, and worked closely with Petrie, starting with his excavations at the site of Lahun in 1912. The couple continued to excavate at many sites together over the years, as indicated by Petrie’s own diaries and the acknowledgments in publication volumes, although only Guy Brunton’s name appears on the publications. Winifred Brunton also became an accomplished artist and is best known for her portraits of ancient Egyptian historical figures. A small number of artefacts excavated by the Bruntons in Middle Egypt, dated to the Predynastic to the Coptic period, were donated to the Egyptian collection in Cape Town in 1929.

Left: Pottery jar. Excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie at Kafr-Tarkhan. Predynastic. Iziko collection SACHM1844.
Middle: Alabaster Ba-bird with modern bronze legs. Excavated by Guy Brunton at Thebes. 18th Dynasty. Iziko collection SACHM2938.
Right: Lotus flower cup, blue faience. Iziko collection SACHM1722.

The ancient Egyptian collection forms an important part of the Iziko holdings, and has been very popular through the years, not only with researchers and academics but also with school-going learners as the ancient Egyptian culture is a subject of study in the South African school curriculum.

KEMET: Life in ancient Egypt

On 1 December 2018 the Iziko Museums opened a redesigned and upgraded version of the Egyptian exhibition called KEMET: Life in ancient Egypt at the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum.

Ancient Egyptians called their country Kemet (kmt), meaning ‘black land’, referring to the fertile black soils of the Nile flood plains, as opposed to the ‘red land’ of the desert. The word ‘Egypt’ comes from the ancient Greek name Aiguptos, which in turn came from an Egyptian name Hikuptah, meaning the ‘house of the god Ptah’. Hikuptah was one of the ancient names of Memphis, a major city in ancient Egypt.

Left: Painted section of a linen canvas mummy case. Amun’s head-dress with tall plumes and
sun-disc at the centre, flanked by Thoth (left) and Horus (right). 20th Dynasty. Iziko collection SACHM1598.
Right: Wooden statue of the god Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. Combining characteristics of Ptah (creation), Sokar (death as metamorphosis), and Osiris (rebirth), this deity symbolized the whole cycle of regeneration in a single entity. Probably Ptolemaic period. Iziko collection SACHM1725.

KEMET: Life in ancient Egyptfocusses on those aspects that made the ancient Egyptians so remarkable, and their contributions to the modern world. Various topics are covered in the KEMETexhibition texts and displays, such as the importance of the Nile River in the lives of the Egyptians, the contribution that the ancient Egyptians made with regards to writing systems, science and technology, as well as aspects of ancient Egyptian life such as religion, the gods they believed in, ways of living, and the importance of the afterlife.

A new addition to the redesigned KEMETexhibition is an Augmented Reality (AR) game which was created in partnership with students from the Game Graphics & Multimedia Entertainment department at the Friends of Design – Academy of Digital Arts in Cape Town. The AR game provides alternative and interesting ways of learning. It is a fun and interactive opportunity for learners and visitors to get to know more about life in ancient Egypt by following the story of an ordinary Egyptian, and what happened when he passes away to enter the afterlife.

The game weaves in various aspects of the ancient Egyptian culture, religion, funerary practices and how to live life to enter the afterlife. Links are made to the artefacts on exhibition, enhancing an understanding and appreciation of ancient African societies.

Developing the KEMET AR game. Photograph courtesy Friends of Design – Academy of Digital Arts.

TESSA (The Egyptian Society of South Africa) kindly assisted the Iziko Museums in the acquisition of equipment central to the operation of the AR game.

Modern technology has also in the past greatly enhanced our knowledge about the artefacts in the ancient Egyptian collection, such as when sophisticated digital 3D X-ray imaging was done on the mummified animals in the collection. The scanning, analysis and research were carried out by scientists and researchers from the Stellenbosch University. The findings made known in 2015, yielded a world first, as it was discovered that an ancient Egyptian bird mummy in the museum collection carries the remains of at least two house mice and a small sparrow in its stomach. This was the first evidence found to point to the mass breeding of raptor birds as offerings to gods and deities in ancient Egypt. Based on morphology, limb measurements and beak shape, the researchers established that the mummy bird was a European kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).

A 3D image of the mummified kestrel in the Iziko collection (SACHM2572) showing the tail of a young house mouse extending through the bird’s esophagus. Photograph by Prof. Izak Cornelius © Stellenbosch University. The mummy bird is on exhibition in KEMET.

Acknowledgements for KEMET

The Iziko Museums acknowledges TESSA for its contribution towards the KEMET AR game and for continued support of the Egyptian collection.

The KEMET exhibition was designed by Amy Sephton (Iziko exhibitions designer) and Nosingiphile Mazibuko (Iziko 2D exhibitions designer).

Dr. Jessica Nitschke is acknowledged for her scholarly input towards the exhibition upgrade project. It was Dr. Nitschke’s idea to name the exhibition KEMET, the name ancient Egyptians used for their country.

Besides Dr. Nitschke, the following individuals contributed towards the development of exhibition texts – Anlen Boshoff (retired curator of Egyptology and Research Associate at the Iziko Museums) Jay van den Berg Brittany Leatherman and Nancy Lizibeth Lopez (interns, Michigan State University, USA) and Amy Sephton (Iziko exhibitions designer).

The academic team who researched the mummy bird is acknowledged as well – Prof. Izak Cornelius (Department of Ancient Studies, Stellenbosch University) Dr. Ruhan Slabbert (Research Associate affiliated to the same department) Prof. Anton du Plessis of the CT Scanner Facility, Stellenbosch University and Prof. Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

The world’s oldest woven garment, called the Tarkhan Dress, probably fell past the knees originally. At 5,100 to 5,500 years old, it dates to the dawn of the kingdom of Egypt. Found in Cairo in 1913, now it's in the collection of the University College London [2804x3738]


The world’s oldest woven garment, called the Tarkhan Dress, probably fell past the knees originally. At 5,100 to 5,500 years old, it dates to the dawn of the kingdom of Egypt. Found in Cairo in 1913, now it's in the collection of the University College London [2804x3738]

I think that's the one in the Petrie Museum. I've seen it and it is amazing. Petrie collected tons and tons of stuff that he bought from locals in Egypt, and the museum is a pokey little place crammed to the gills with nifty stuff.

Apparently, the tunic sat tucked away in a corner, wrapped up in a ball for decades. No one thought it was anything special. Then they spent weeks/months (?) Opening it out and found out what it was. The threads are amazingly thin, and the weave is unbelievably fine. It's in an acrylic box (I can't quite remember), and you can get right up close to it to get a good look.

The only other thing I've seen like this is in the Cairo museum (if they haven't moved it to the new one in Giza). The second floor of the Cairo museum, when I was there, was all stuff from Tut's tomb. While the face mask and the sarcophagus are truly awesome, the thing that made the biggest impression on me was hanging on the wall in a picture frame.

A loincloth, really. Just a triangle of the most amazingly thin cotton. It truly blew me away at how they were able to achieve such a fine weave of cloth back then. Since it's in a picture frame, you can get as close as you like and really appreciate the craftsmanship.

Anyways, the tunic in the Petrie seems to me to be about the same quality of cloth as Tut's undies. But way more complicated in design.


In this caricature, on the right, we can see the Statue of Freedom that appears to be alive. It is quoting the Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, “ New Colossus ” in 1883. There are several phrases associated with the Statue of Liberty, but the most recognizable is “ Give me your tired, your poor. ”

Then, on the left, there is a really big wave, a tsunami, that is coming right on the statue. On the tsunami, there is something written , ” 3 million illegal aliens per year ”. The tsunami refers to the 3 million immigrants (“ illegal Aliens ”) who come to the United States.

The statue looks scared of the tsunami, it says “ Holy &$%#!! ”, which is ironic because the poem that it is reciting, represents the protector of the oppressed, the lighthouse guiding the immigrants and refugees who came to seek a new beginning in the New World, the United State.

The statue is thus scared of the immigrants.

We can see at the bottom right “ ”, the caricature thus appears in the cnsnews.

In my opinion, this is kind of sad because this shows how unbalanced the world is, people want or have to leave their countries because they can no longer live in theirs.

There are so many people leaving their countries that measures were taken to limit immigration to the United States and make them illegal immigrants.

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is celebrating 100 years since first opening its doors at UCL with a series of events and a special exhibition. Here's ten of their best treasures from the Ancient World

This statue from Dynasty 18 (1352-192 BC) once stood outside an Egyptian tomb. For many years, however, the pair sat in front of the desk of Amelia Edwards (1831-1892), an accomplished novelist, travel writer, suffragette and Egyptologist.

Although the Museum is called the ‘Petrie Museum’, it would not have been here at all were it not for Edwards. On her death in 1892 she left a bequest to UCL to establish the UK’s first University position in Egyptian Archaeology and Philology, together with her collection. She chose UCL because it was the only university in England that, at the time, awarded degrees to women on equal terms with men.

A drill core of the Old Kingdom

This was one of the first objects collected by the pioneering archaeologist, Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), around the Great Pyramid in 1881-82. He had travelled to Egypt to measure the pyramids and his survey of these Giza monuments is one of the most accurate ever made.

This drill core, which he dated to the Old Kingdom (c. 2866-2125 BC), caught his eye. Petrie was fascinated by the building methods of the past and the sophistication of Egyptian hard stone cutting was evident in the symmetry of the striations on this object. How this core was cut using a tubular copper drill continues to puzzle many people today.

Roman era Hawara portrait

Flinders Petrie’s team discovered many striking Roman era portraits at Hawara in 1888-9 and 1910-11. Hawara became especially important in the Roman period and seems to have functioned as the elite burial ground for people of the Fayum, an area between the main Nile Valley and the desert oases. The panels would have covered the face of a mummy.

The Petrie Museum has the largest collection of these ‘portraits’ outside of Egypt. Originally placed over the face of a mummified body, the portraits were hailed as the first ‘lifelike’ representations of real people on their first exhibition in London in 1888. The one shown here (UC14692) was Flinders Petrie’s favourite and excavated in 1888. The hairstyle and clothes depicted have allowed experts to date her to about AD 160–190.

Gold amulet of the late Middle Kingdom

This hollow gold amulet was worn as a pendant in the late Middle Kingdom (1850 BC – 1700 BC). The ancient craftsperson who made it had to solder on 3600 individual, tiny gold globes onto the surface.

It was excavated from a grave at Harageh by Ali Suefi in 1913-14, an Egyptian archaeologist who worked with Petrie on dozens of excavations in Egypt. Suefi also trained fellow Egyptians in excavation techniques and many of their descendants continue to work on archaeological digs to this day.

Gertrude Caton-Thompson’s photo album

The Petrie Museum holds a significant archive of notebooks, letters and photographs giving us a unique insight into the history of British excavation in Egypt.

This photograph is from the 1924 album of Gertrude Caton-Thompson (1888 – 1985), just one of the many important female archaeologists who worked on excavations with Flinders Petrie, directing their own fieldwork, and making significant discoveries. Caton-Thompson led the discovery of the Egyptian Neolithic and her digging techniques were ahead of their time.

Stone inscribed with Meroitic language

This fragment bears a portion of text (275 BC – 350 BC ) inscribed in the Meroitic language. Although the script has been deciphered, the words themselves cannot be translated.

It was excavated at the ancient city of Meroe, in northern Sudan, John Garstang, a former pupil of Petrie, for the businessman and collector Sir Henry Wellcome. Much of Wellcome’s collection of Egyptian and Sudanese objects came to the Petrie Museum in the 1960s. The material from Meroe offers an insight into a civilisation as rich but not as widely known as Ancient Egypt.

Tarkhan Dress from Dynasty 1

This dress was excavated at Tarkhan, one of the most important cemeteries from the time that Egypt was unified around 3000 BC. It was excavated from a pile of linen from a Dynasty 1 (c. 2800 BC) tomb in 1913.

It was only in 1977, when this linen pile was cleaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum's Textile Conservation Workshop, that the dress was discovered. It was then carefully conserved, stitched onto Crepeline (a fine silk material used in textile conservation) and mounted so it could be seen the way it was worn in life. It is one of the oldest garments from Egypt on display in the world.

Rosalind Hall, who re-displayed the garment, believed that the garment had clearly been worn in life, because it was found inside-out, as it very well might have be after having been pulled over the head with distinct signs of creasing at the elbows and under the armpits.

Ancient beads made of iron from a meteorite

These three corroded beads may not look like much now, but they are in fact the world’s earliest worked iron. They were found in 1911 in a prehistoric grave (c.3400 BC) at Gerzeh. The beads pre-date iron smelting techniques by nearly 2,000 years because they are made of iron from a meteorite.

Such material would have been brittle and very hard to work, but when heated would have been shiny and strikingly fluorescent in colour. The other materials found in the same grave are also special. They include lapis lazuli beads, the closest source for which is Afghanistan, as well as a mace-head, which was a weapon and a symbol of status.

Painted plaster fragments from the ancient city of Akhetaten

Painted plaster once adorned the walls of palaces in the ancient city of Akhetaten (modern Tell el-Amarna), a short-lived but finely-decorated capital around 1350 BC. The city was created by the 'heretic' pharaoh Akhenaten and his famous Queen Nefertiti. It was also the boyhood home of Tutankhamen.

Amarna is itself famous for dazzling decorative and fine arts. Decoration in the Pharaoh Akhenaten’s Palace included his own image (e.g. UC2267) and Queen Nefertiti’s cartouche (UC2261). They were excavated in 1891–92 by Flinders Petrie’s teams at Amarna.

Pyramid texts: a king's ascent to heaven

‘Pyramid texts’ are some of the oldest religious texts in the world. This is from Pepy I’s Dynasty 6 pyramid at Saqqara (2300-2181 BC) and give formulae for the King’s ascent into heaven.

‘Pyramid text' is the modern name for the corpus of formulae inscribed in the inner chambers of royalty in late Old Kingdom period (about 2686-2181 BC) pyramids. In later periods some of these compositions continued to be used in ritual, and were sometimes copied as funerary texts. They develop later into ‘Coffin texts’. Some academics have seen them as a precursor to the collection of religious rites and prayers known as the 'Book of the Dead'.

This text contains the cartouche of King Pepy four times. It also has the formulae for the ascent of the king to heaven and for his eternal supply of food and drink.

Watch the video: The conservators eye: Marble statue of a wounded warrior