Ancient Egypt Fan


The National Museum of Ireland (ESI Aug 1998)

Ireland's collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities, which for the past 250 years was displayed either in large or small collections in a variety of locations, is now housed permanently in our National Museum Dublin. Previous locations include, the Ulster Museum in Belfast, the Boole Library in University College Cork, the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Hunt Museum in Limerick and the National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin.

The National Museum where the collection is now on display, was designed by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane and his son Sir Thomas Manly Deane in 1884 and finished in 1890. It faces across the courtyard from Leinster House, a fine Georgian mansion built in 1745 and now Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament), to the National Library on Kildare Street.
On busy Kildare Street the gilded title Museum is shown on the top of the wrought iron gateway leading to the large circular hall. There is a poster of the portrait of Lady Tentdinebu overhead in the dome and the museum shop is on the same ground floor. The Irish Antiquities Division hold one of Europe's most impressive collections of Antiquities. Among the items on display are items from the Stone Age to Medieval times, Irish gold treasures from the Bronze Age and Iron Age, and Early Christian Art such as the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch and the Cross of Cong to name but a few. Other exhibits date from Viking Age 800-1150, Irish silver, glass and ceramic wares. Also on display are items of Japanese culture, coins and medals, photographic equipment and major section on the history of Irish Independence 1916-1921. There is also now a collection of Egyptian Antiquities.

The National Museum has the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in Ireland, exhibited in a small section on the first floor and is open to the public at present. Numerous pieces are kept in the storeroom and are unable to be exhibited in the room because of it's limited size. In all, there is about three thousands artefacts. Records show the first known Egyptian mummy, arrived at Dublin port in April 1754. Some Egyptian antiquities were brought to Dublin by the Earl of Charlemont in April 1780 after his "Grand Tour" of Italy. Irish travellers bought antiquities in Egypt and brought them to Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many items were donated also, to the National Museum of Science and Art, (later of Ireland) between 1850 to 1920.

Many thousands of artefacts were found in excavations by Frederick W. Green, Sir William Flinders-Petrie, James Edward Quibell, Professor Naville, John Garstang, Miss Margaret Alice Murray and others in the Nile Valley. These contributed largely to the new museum by Egypt Exploration Fund, (Later Society) British School of Archaeology and Egyptian Research Account London founded from 1880 to 1915. In 1909 Miss Margaret Murray (1863-1963) British Egyptologist, arrived in Dublin and stayed for many months. She researched and registered the newly acquired Egyptian artefacts for the first published catalogue. This General Guide to the Art Collections included - Part III Egyptian Antiquities - Chapter I. Sculpture, Inscriptions, Ostraka, Egyptian Writing. Chapter II. - Mummies. Chapter III. - Pottery, Faience, Metal and Small Objects, in Dublin in 1910. Mr. Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862-1934), British Egyptologist, later revised the translations of the inscriptions on stelas, mummies, fragments and statues etc.

The Egyptian Exhibition is housed on the first floor, in a fairly large room opened to the public for the first time by the Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Dick Spring TD, on Wednesday the 15th January. It had been closed since 1972. The exhibition which includes over five hundred and fifty objects chosen from the museums extensive collection of three thousands pieces are on display indefinitely, and was devised by the English Egyptologists Dr. Stephen Quirke and Dr. John Taylor of the British Museum. The exhibition room was designed and built by Patrick Gannon of the Office of Public Works. The atmospheric dark blue and terracotta setting is intended to evoke a sense of the mysterious Nile Valley, the home of Egyptian Archaeology. "We have approached the exhibition from a thematic rather than strictly chronological point of view" says Miss Mary Cahill, Assistant Keeper at the National Museum and exhibition co-ordinator. The 550 objects on exhibit are described in detail on the display-cases, highlighting the important of these artefacts.

Greeting the visitors at the doorway is an imitation black cast statue of a herald in long kilt, which stands on the pedestal inscribed with hieroglyphs, on his chest and on the original base at the feet. It's statue is now in the Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna, Austria. The statue came from Armant near Thebes and is dated about 13th Dynasty c.1700 BC. Other features of the exhibition include:-
- A pylon with two illustrated sides in beautiful bas-relief, the Lady IPULA, the mother of vizier RAMOSE -relief carving in limestone in the Ramoses chapel-tomb at Thebes,- Male and Female guests at a banquet - Ramoses chapel-tomb. (18th Dynasty 1355 BC).
- In the midst of the display stands a painted wooden model of a Nile boat with 22 rowers, and two armed guards, from Beni Hassan tomb 585, and is about 36 inch long. (Early 12th Dynasty 1900 BC)
- On the right side of the exhibition are Pre-Dynasty-stone implements - arrowheads, scrapers, tools, flint knifes and blades, from Fayuim Neolithic 5000-3500 BC. Burial goods of a child - fish shaped siltstone palette c.4000 -3500 BC. Pre-Dynasty stonewares, painted pottery, burnished red and black topped bowls, tall jars, vases, vessels, calcite bowls and cosmetic.
- A painted brown limestone statue of SENEMIAH, a priest of Theban Moon - god Khons bears the unusual phrase - whose hands are pure when adoring his god. - from Thebes. It's one foot high. (Early 18th Dynasty 1500 BC).
- Eight temple wall fragments of sandstone carved in relief with series of offerings - bearers - courtiers - a head or god from the cult-temple of Pharaoh NEBHEPETRE MONTUHOTEP II. From Deir el Bahri, all painted mostly in terra-cotta with some mixed colours on legs, faces, shoulders, arms, animals and a quarter of Pharaohs eye and headdress with uraeus. (11th Dynasty)
- A wooden model rocker inscribed with the cartouche of MAAT-KA-RA ( HATSHEPSUT ) found in an undisturbed foundation deposit of the temple, contains fifty model implements by the Egypt Exploration Fund excavators in 1895 at Deir el Bahri. (1450 BC.)
- Limestone model vessels of the throne name of Pharaoh AMENOPHIS III from Abydos Orisis temple foundation deposit. (18th Dynasty).
- Tomb-chapel and offering to the dead - blockstone of REY, the Treasury of overseer and the granaries of Mont the local god of Armant, a city near Thebes, inscribed in hieroglyphs from Armant. (19th Dynasty).
- A stela of the official HETEPNEB inscribed and carved in sunken relief limestone bears a text to ensure an eternal supply of offering for the deceased. On this block, are the figures of Hetepneb, a local administrator and his wife, his beloved, the Royal Acquaintance, the Prophetess of Hathor, Ari. From Dra Abu el Nagi on the west bank of Thebes. (First Intermediate Period. 2100 BC.)
- A large red granite offering tablet of Pharaoh SENUSRET III with the epithets, Beloved of Khnum Lord of the Cataract area and of Satet lady of Elephantine and Beloved of Dedwer foremost of Nubia - the offering table stood probably originally in the temple built by Senusret III in his
fortress at Semna on the second cataract, Nubia. (12th Dynasty c. 1862 BC.)


Many mummies are displayed in the cases.
- The Mummy of the Lady TENTDINEBU is in the first wooden coffin in dark-brown and second cartonnage inlaid with a gilded mask is painted in brilliant colours on a white background. The figures are of various divinities, and the decoration is chiefly remarkable for it's out-spread wings, symbols of protection, which cross and re-cross the whole mummy-case from head to foot. She was a temple musician in Thebes. It is 6 ft. high. (22nd Dynasty 940-710 BC)
- A painted wooden anthropoid coffin of the Lady DJEDESEIUEFANKH has decoration on the lid which include images of the winged sky goddess Nut and the gods Horus and Anubis tending the mummy which lies on a lion-headed bier. (Late Period 700 BC.)
- The 26th Dynasty anthropoid coffin containing a Ptolemaic wrapped mummy of Lady DIEFIANET is covered with blue faience bead-network and scarab beetle. (Ptolemaic Dynasty 300 BC.)
- Mummy mask of painted and gilded cartonnage of an unnamed woman from Aswan (Ptolemaic Dynasty 300 BC.)
- An unnamed mummy mask painted and gilded cartonnage, depicting scenes of a winged scarab beetle
supporting the solar disc, adoring baboons, a human-headed Ba-bird, and the figures of Osiris, Ra-Horakhty and Anubis, from the Rubayyat. (Ptolemaic Dynasty 305-30 BC.)
- Painted wooden coffin of the Lady DJEDESE. Provenance unknown.
( Late Period 700 BC.)
- Mummy of an unnamed young woman with encaustic portrait from Hawara. (1st century AD.)
- A wrapped mummified cat. Roman Period after 30 BC. Provenance unknown.
- Wooden coffin for a mummified cat. Provenance unknown. (Late Period after 710 BC.)
- A wrapped mummified Ibis in pottery jar. Provenance unknown. (Late Period 200 BC.)
- Two wooden sceptres of the priest SAWADJET from Rigga tomb with some pottery, found by British School of Archaeology and Egyptian Research Account in 1912-13.
- Three Funerary Statuettes (symbols of resurrection), in wooden mummified forms - Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figures standing on the bases. (From the Late Period 710-330 BC).
- Group of 31 ushabtis in wooden painted blue/greenish, faience, and white, inscribed from 18th to 26th Dynasties.
- Jewellery - various amulets, necklaces, fingerings, scarabs, earrings, beads, bracelets and bronze mirror with a wooden handle.
- Numberous Stelas painted, inscribed and carved in hieroglyphs in limestone and wooden blocks from the 12th Dynasty to the Roman Period.
- Bronze statuettes of Osiris, Bast, Horus, incense vase and burner, tools, instruments and axe-heads from the various periods.
- Roman and Coptic artefacts - shoes, sandals, stone table, textiles, incense oil lamps, bronze cross, glassware, reed pens, necklaces, utensils, bells, coins, bone gaming pieces, inscribed stone-block and keys.

Most of the antiquities came from the excavations in Deir el Bahri, Memphis, Fayuim, Rubbayyat, Abydos, Beni Hassan, Ehnasya and Oxyrhynchus and were given to the National Museum by the Egypt Exploration Fund between in 1894 and 1915.

The Egyptological Society of Ireland appreciate the great work of the EEF in setting up the Egyptian collections in the National Museum of Ireland between 1890-1915. We are very proud of this major collection of Egyptian antiquities, which is now on display in the Museum and hope many people will come and see it. Part of the reason why E.S.I. was set up in Dublin ten and a half years ago is because we knew this collection of Egyptian artefacts existed in Ireland. We would now like to research and study this collection in detail and provide as much information as possible to your members. Irish history is connected to Ancient Egypt in many respects, most notably by the Ancient Egyptian - Princess Scota who many think came to southern Ireland 3,800 years ago but this will be discussed in a separate article at another time.

David Breslin.




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Last revised 25th Nov 2001