World Museum, Liverpool

Liverpool's World Museum has one of the largest collections of Ancient Egyptian and Nubian antiquities in the UK, with more than 16,000 objects ranging from about 5,000 BC to 642 AD. The original nucleus of the Egyptian collection was donated by Joseph Mayer, an English goldsmith, collector and antiquarian (1803-1886) in 1867 and then further augmented by supporting fieldwork projects of the Egypt Exploration Society, Flinders Petrie’s British School of Archaeology in Egypt, and particularly the University of Liverpool excavations of John Garstang. During the Blitz in May 1941, more than 3,000 Egyptian objects were destroyed by the Luftwaffe, with an incendiary bomb causing structural and fire damage to the building.
The expanded and newly displayed Ancient Egypt gallery at Liverpool’s World Museum, that cost £1.8 million to be refurbished and opened at the end of April 2017 after a year and a half long closure, is now the UK’s largest display of its

kind outside of the British Museum in London. The gallery space tripled in size to approximately 1000m². The upgrade enabled objects that have never been showcased before or that have been kept in store rooms for decades to be displayed
and although the plan promised to treble the number of objects on view, it stayed at some 1,300. The gallery space, under
the theme of “Ancient Egypt : A Journey Through Time”, is divided into 7 chronologically and thematically defined sections :



  • “5,000 years” outlines the time scale and introduces the key themes

  • the main focus of the “River Nile” zone is a late Predynastic burial of a woman excavated by John Garstang at
    Kostamneh in Nubia, now submerged under Lake Nasser

  • the “People of Egypt” section concentrates on daily life, religion and arts

  • the “African Kingdoms” area outlines the dominance of different powers over time and encompasses Nubian, Meroitic,
    Greek and Roman material

  • the highlight of the “Afterlife” realm is a 4-meter long Ptolemaic Book of the Dead papyrus of Djedhor, son of Tapes,
    preserved in 5 sheets of both hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts, which is displayed for the first time alongside 150
    shabtis, 127 cm high wooden statue of Osiris and animal mummies and decorated coffins  

  • the circular “Liverpool Discovery” area presents Liverpool’s importance as a channel for Egyptian artefacts coming into

  • the “Mummy Room”, flanked by a pair of Sekhmet statues, contains 9 mummies, some of them displayed suspended
    above the coffin basins on multi-level supports, with each level lit by LED tubes.



I visited the galleries in the summer 2015 during a trip with P.A.D.E.S. - Plymouth and District Egyptology Society - with 5
other members of the Egyptian Society Taunton, on whose committee I work in the capacity of webmaster. In the Liverpool
galleries I photographed 6 objects that originally came from Deir el-Medina and that were on display at the time. The
Museum currently holds 4 additional objects whose provenance is now researched as Deir el-Medina - they are added to the
list below. I also added, for this list to be exhaustive, 2 additional objects that were unfortunately destroyed during the
1941 bombing and thus are no longer a part of the Museum's collection.

It is interesting to note that the majority of the objects listed below - 8 out of 12 - originated from Deir el-Medina and
were a part of the original Joseph Mayer collection with which he opened his Egyptian Museum in 1852. This was a very early
date for objects to be coming from the settlement as any scientific excavation of the site had not yet been undertaken. The
objects must have been either illicitly dug up by the locals at the beginning of the 19th century or/and collected by
Bernardino Drovetti, French Consul-General, or Henry Salt, British Consul-General, during the 1810s or by John Gardner
Wilkinson, the pioneering English Egyptologist, who recorded information about several Deir el-Medina tombs in 1820s. Mayer had bought the collection in 1839 from Joseph Sams, a bookseller from Darlington, who himself had purchased it between 1830 and 1838 as part of the Egyptian collection of Charles Bogaert, a businessman from Bruges (see Sams, Joseph:
"Ancient Egypt: Objects of Antiquity forming part of the Extensive and Rich Collections from Ancient Egypt, brought to
England by, and now in the possession of, J Sams", London, 1839, pl.22,2). It has been further suggested that Bogaert
received his collection as repayment of a debt from Jean-Baptiste de Lescluze, a Belgian shipowner and merchant who had
collected the material in Egypt between 1824 and 1825 (NML,2018).
The remaining 4 objects were part of a large donation of some 200 objects from the Trustees of the Wellcome Institute in

I would like to express my thanks to the Liverpool World Museum and its staff, especially to Dr Ashley Cooke,
Head of Antiquities & Curator of Egyptology, who kindly gave me permission to include the museum's finds from Deir
el-Medina on my website and supplied me with high quality images of the objects and to Maureen Smith, PA to Director of
World Museum, for her assistance.
All images are © of the National Museums Liverpool
Photography Lenka Peacock and the National Museums Liverpool

Fragment of an offering stela
From Deir el-Medina
Ramesside, possibly 19th dynasty
Dimensions: 15x17x4 cms
Inv. no.: 1973.2.340
Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection, 1971
Currently not on display

This fragment is a lower left part of a larger stela incised in fine sunk relief. The right side depicts a man kneeling with his arms raised in adoration facing to the left. By comparison to similar votive stelae from Deir el-Medina we can assume the top register,
now missing, was bearing an image of a deity, a royal person or a high ranking official (vizier), whom the man is venerating. He is clean shaven or bald and wears an ankle-length kilt. There are traces of brownish pigment remaining on his head and arms.
On the left side the kneeling man is facing 3 vertical columns of hieroglyphic inscription.

Line 1: <for> the Ka of the Servant of the Place of Truth
Line 2: Pa-hy-Hat, the justified,
Line 3: and his son, the Servant...

Line 1: <n> kA n sDm-<aS> m st-mAat
Line 2: pA-xy-HAt mAa-Xrw tr
Line 3: i sA.f sDm-<aS>

The reading of the name is not straightforward and the identity of the person mentioned is not secured so far. The available
corpus of Deir el-Medina texts does not mention any Pahyhat with the title "sDm m st mAat" - the "Servant in the Place of
Truth". We know of one Pahyhat with a title "water-carrier" - "pA-xy-HA.t in-mw" - within the lines 4-5 of the hieratic text of an ostrakon now at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford O.Ashmolean 56, who is known from this particular text dated to the year 3 of Ramesses IV (around 1152 BC) - 20th dynasty - where Pahyhat delivers grain and vegetables with his well-known contemporary, Pentaweret. Richard Mandeville lists him in his Masters study on water-carriers at Deir el-Medina written at Liverpool University (Mandeville,16). Pahyhat in the text on this stela gives his title as the "Servant of the Place of Truth" and not as a "water-carrier", so although this gives us prove that individuals with this name did exist at Deir el-Medina, this must be a different Pahyhat, one we have not recovered any additional information on as yet. Some Egyptologists suggest his identify as being that of PAy, the Servant in the Place of Truth, who was active at Deir el-Medina from the reign of Horemheb to early in the reign of Ramesses II (around 1319-1280 BC).
The date of the stela, as suggested on stylistic grounds, coincides with the 19th dynasty (about 1290-1270 BC).

Gina Criscenzo-Laycock points out the manner in which the raised arms of the man are portrayed. Unlike in most
contemporary votive stelae from Deir el-Medina, where the worshipper's arms are raised with a gap in between them, this
stele shows them almost overlapping. In her article (Criscenzo-Laycock,2011,123) the author lists 2 more stelae with the
same feature, both in the British Museum (BM EA278 and BM EA374). The author gives the space restriction as a possible
reason for the gap in between the raised arms to be missing or it might be possible that the listed stelae are all work of
the same artisan. The author dates this stele on stylistic grounds to the reign of Ramesses II comparing it to 5 stelae from
the Turin collection (50030, 50034, 50036, 50037, 50066), where she finds certain specific stylistic elements to be
shared among all 6 stelae.

The stela was acquired by Henry Wellcome at an auction at around the turn of the 20th century. There is a small piece of
the auction label remaining on the reverse of the object. No details on exact provenance or the date of its discovery are
known today (Criscenzo-Laycock,2011,123)
Walking stick
19th dynasty (around 1295-1186 BC)
Inscribed and polished wood
Remains of blue pigment
Length: 46.5 cms
Diameter: 2.1 cms
Inv. no: M13821
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
Currently on display in Ancient Egypt Gallery, Level 3

This is the upper part of a wooden walking stick or staff that belonged to Ipuy, a royal workman in the Valley of the Kings, who lived at Deir el-Medina during the 19th dynasty.  Differentiation should be made between the owner of TT217, the well-known sculptor Ipuy(i), who lived at Deir el-Medina during the 19th dynasty reign of Ramesses II (around 1279-1213 BC) and came from the family of the sculptor Piay(ii), who served under Horemheb, Ramesses I and Seti I (around 1319-1279) and a workman Ipuy(vii) who is attested between year 1 of Amenmesses
(around 1203-1200 BC) and at least year 1 of Siptah (around
1194-1188 BC) (Davies,1996,214) and whom this object might have belonged to. However, the name, even accompanied by the title, is too common for any precise identification.
Although the lower part of the object is lost, the complete inscription survived in the form of carefully carved single vertical column of hieroglyphs that are read from top to bottom. Much of the original blue pigment, which was used to fill the signs, still remains on the wood. The wood was originally polished and is now split in the place where the stick got broken in half.
In ancient Egypt sticks and staffs had always been considered insignia of status, authority and rank. This fact is supported by tomb depictions of the elite as well as by archaeological finds. (Wiese,2004,326) There is another example of a New Kingdom walking stick in Liverpool Museum but it is not inscribed - 59.32.189
Translation of the inscription:
The one greatly favoured by his god, Amun-Re, [who
is] in Ipet-sut (= the temples of Karnak), the august
god within the Ennead (?) Ipuy

Transliteration of the inscription:
Hsy aA n nTr.f Jmn-Ra m Jpt-swt nTr Sps m-Xnw
psDt jn TAty tp m st J-pw-y Spss
Hieratic ostrakon
From Deir el-Medina
20th dynasty
Dimensions: 20 x 19 cm
Inv. no.: M13624
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
Item is not currently on display

The ostrakon is inscribed on both sides. The recto consists of 9 horizontal lines of hieratic inscription in black ink and contains starting lines of the Prophecy of Neferty from Papyrus Petersburg 1116B recto. The verso consists of 9 lines of hieratic inscription written in black ink and contains a household list giving the name of the householder, with his title, followed by the name of his wife and their children, but without affiliations. From its format it is impossible to tell whether this household census is a draft declaration, or notes for a local, domestic purpose. The list illustrated the relationship of the individual to the demands of authority (Eyre,2013,217-218).
Hieratic ostrakon
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty, reign of Merenptah
(around 1213–1203 BC)
Dimensions: 16.5 x 11.5 cm
Inv. no.: M13625
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
Currently on display in Ancient Egypt
Gallery, Level 3
This limestone ostrakon is inscribed on both sides. The obverse side contains 10 horizontal lines of hieratic inscription, the reverse side contains 9 horizontal lines of hieratic inscription. Both black and red inks are used. It was suggested by Professor Jaroslav Černý that both sides were inscribed by the same hand (Černý, Gardiner, "Hieratic Ostraca" (1957, plates 63 and 63a). It has been noted that the content is a sundry accounts of supplies and work done, i.e. in connection with a coffin and several feasts. Professor Mark Collier of the University of Liverpool provided a brief account of the inscription in 2013: “The recto opens with four lines specifying items given to an unnamed individual at a series of festivals (festivals of Taweret, Hathor and Meretseger). Lines 5 onwards are repeated instances of giving (but without specified occasion), all probably as recompense for some activity. The verso starts with a section (verso lines 1–5) of memorandum of items connected to work of 'my three lads', possibly people within a workshop. Verso line 6 end is a memorandum concerning a bed which ends up with Anupemheb, who saws off some wood for use in a coffin”.
Hieratic ostrakon
From Deir el-Medina
19th-20th dynasty (about 1295-1069 BC)
Black ink
14.5 x 10 cms
Inv. no: M13626
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
Currently on display in Ancient Egypt
Gallery, Level 3
This limestone ostrakon is inscribed on both sides: the obverse (pictured) contains 9 horizontal lines of hieratic script in black ink, the reverse contains further 7 lines of the script, mostly in black ink, except for the beginning of line 4, which is written in red. The account is providing a list of manufactured wooden objects that were produced for a client by a carpenter. The receipt gives values of the items in deben of copper. Most of the items are of funerary nature - 2 outer anthropoid coffins, 1 inner anthropoid coffin, 1 shabti box, blue pigment and another coffin. The overall value of the goods is 112 deben.
Wooden cubit rod
From Deir el-Medina
Late 18th dynasty
Length: 52 cms
Width: 3.5 cms
Inv. no: M13825
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
Currently on display in Ancient
Egypt Gallery, Level 3
The royal cubit was the main measurement unit used in ancient Egypt to establish the length of objects or short distances.
It measures 52.4 cms, which is approximately the length of an adult man's forearm from his elbow down to his fingertips.
It comprised 7 palm widths each of 4 digits of thumb width (28 digits to the cubit) (Shaw,1995,174).  

On this particular rod the divisions of the cubit are marked on average at 1.9, 3.8 and 7.6 cms. One edge of the rod has a sloping surface. One side of the object is incised with a hieroglyphic inscription written from right to left and containing a
funerary offering formula to Amun-Re, Ptah and Thoth on behalf of Nakhy, a tomb-builder from Deir el-Medina.

Translation: An offering which the King gives to Amun-Re and to Ptah, Lord of the Two Lands, and to Thoth, Lord of Divine
Words, great god who dwells in Hermopolis, so that they may give life, prosperity and health, and a good lifespan, following
their Ka's, for the Ka of the Servant in the Place of Thruth, Any.

This workman Nakhy should not be mistaken with the workman Nakhy, son of Bukentef, who lived at the end of the 19th
dynasty or with the latter's grandfather, the chief craftsman Nakhy, who comes from a different family.

The workman Nakhy and his wife are known from following objects now in other European museums:
- stela no. 50010 in the Turin Museum (M .Tosi and A. Roccati, "Stele e altre epigrafi di Deir el Medina. (n.
50001-50262) : Pubblicate con il contributo del Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche" (Turin, 1972), 43-4)
- a limestone tomb-relief in the British Museum no. 281 (Bierbrier, M L, "Hieroglyphic Texts from Egyptian Stelae etc.",
Part 10, London, BMP, 1982)
- funerary cones discovered in pit 1138 at Deir el-Medina (B. Bruyère, "Rapport sur les fouilles de Deir el Médineh;
(1928)" (Cairo, 1929), 12-16).

More information:
Shabti of Pay
From Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom (Ramesside Period, around 1295-1186 BC)
Length: 20.5 cms
Inv. no: M13603
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
Currently on display in Ancient Egypt Gallery, Level 3

This is a wooden painted shabti of Pay. The shabti's arms, crossed over the chest and the bandaged lower body, show that the figure is  mummified, identifying it with the god Osiris, who is also shown depicted in this way. The heavy tripartite wig is plain and is painted black with gold bands at the ends. The wig rests over an elaborate and colourful wesekh collar consisting of black and red ornaments in four rows. Protruding hands are painted red indicating that the figure is  male. There is no trace of implements in its current state. Behind each shoulder a pair of square weaved baskets are carried. The nicely carved face of the shabti is painted red with large eyes outlined in black. The body is painted yellow over white base and displays 8 horizontal lines of a hieroglyphic inscription written in black ink within a red frame around the figure' body. Pay’s name and title are given within the text,
which is the usual Chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead.
"The illuminated one, the Osiris, the Draughtsman, Pay, the justified, he speaks: O, these shabtis, if one counts, if one reckons the Osiris, the Draughtsman, Pay, the justified, to do all works that are to be done there in the underworld – now indeed obstacles are implanted therewith – as a man at his duties, to cultivate the marsh, to irrigate the riverbank fields, to ferry by boat sand of the east to the west, ?, if one counts, if one reckons ... ‘here I am’ … Pay".

sHD Wsir sS qd PAy mAa-xrw Dd.f i.Swbty ipn ir ir Wsir sS qd PAy mAa-xrw m kAt nbt irrt im Xrt-nTr ist
Hw sdbw im [m] s r Xrt.f srwd sxt r smHt wdbw r Xnt Sa [r] iAbt r imnt iry iry ... m.k ... PAy

There are 2 men with the name Pay and the title "draughtsman" known from Deir el-Medina. Pay(i), son of Ipuy(v), and his
grandson, also the draughtsman Pay(ii), son of Prehotep (Davies,1996,180). This shabti figure could have belong to either
of them.
Mummy mask
From Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC
Dimensions: 20 cmx28 cm
Inv. no: 1973.2.423
Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection, 1971
Currently on display in Ancient Egypt Gallery, Level 3

This striking cartonnage mask, which used to cover a head of a
mummy, closely resembles the style of New Kingdom masks that were
found in Deir el-Medina tombs.
The mask was glued onto the mount while it was still a part of the
Wellcome collection. After becoming a part of the Liverpool Museums
collection, the object was conserved during 1993-1994, when the
flaking paint was consolidated, but it is not at present possible to
remove the mount without damaging the mask.
Cartonnage appeared during the Old Kingdom. It was produced using layers of linen or papyrus stuck together with resin and then covering them with plaster. It was moulded to the shape of the body to produce mummy cases or mummy masks. Once the material was dry it was painted.
In September 2020 I saw one of the oldest known examples of this custom at the exhibition the Kings of the Sun held at the National Museum in Prague, Czech republic. The object came from the Central Abusir's 5th dynasty mastaba of Mernefu. It was found in his burial chamber, placed over the face of the mummy of the deceased. It is housed at the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures in Prague, Inv. no. P 5704.
The materials used to produce cartonnage changed over time. In the Middle Kingdom it was common to use plastered linen,
during the Third Intermediate period, linen and stucco,during the Ptolemaic period, old papyrus scrolls and during the Roman
period, thicker fibrous materials.

More information:
Fragments of a pottery bowl
From Deir el-Medina
18th dynasty, 1550-1295 BC
Black and red pigment
Dimensions: 5.2 cm x 7.7 cm x 1 cm
Inv. no.: 1973.1.698a - top image
Inv. no.: 1973.1.698b - bottom image
Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection, 1971
Ex Wellcome collection inv. W34/22(3)
Currently on display in Ancient Egypt Gallery, Level 3

The fragment, pictured at the top, constitutes the rim and part of the
base of a shallow bowl of polished terracotta ware. Black and red
borders run horizontally at the top and at the bottom of the fragment.
A leaping horse held on a rope by a fragmentary arm and is painted in
red and black pigments.  
The bottom object consists of 4 fragments glued together and displays
a similar scene with a horse minus the arm. To the right of the horse
there is a partial depiction of an ankh sign.
There are 3 very comparable fragments in the Louvre collection that appear to be from the very same vessel. Two of those are on display in the gallery 5 in the glass case no 1, where they are displayed along other figured ostraka from Deir el-Medina. E12968A and E12968B+C - which were excavated at Deir el-Medina from an undecorated tomb 1095 within the 18th dynasty cemetery by Bernard Bruyère during his first season at the settlement.
All fragments seem to display Greek influence. Could the vessel be of Minoan or of Mycenaean origin? Could it have come to Thebes and later to Deir el-Medina as part of imported goods? Or was it Minoan influence, that is now being documented in
modern comprehensive comparison study of wall paintings across several New Kingdom sites, reflecting on Egyptian artistic
production? Perhaps chemical analysis of the fragments would answer some of these intriguing questions.

More information:
Stele dedicated to Meretseger
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty
Height: 20.9 cms
Width: 16 cms
Inv. no: M13830
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867

In the upper half of this round-topped stele six snakes are drawn, all facing to the right and painted in yellow and black.
The lower half of the stele is divided into 2 registers: in the right register there is a figure of a kneeling woman, facing left, with her arms raised in adoration. She was named by Newberry and Peet as Henut. She wears a long, finely pleated white linen dress and on top of her long and elaborately curled black wig she has a perfumed cone. In the left register of the lower half of the stele there are four vertical lines of a hieroglyphic text written in dark paint and read from left to right, from top to bottom.

Translation of the text: Giving adoration to the Ka of Meretseger, Lady of the Western Desert, Mistress of Heaven, Lady of all the gods, that she might give life, health and prosperity to the Ka of the servant ...
The rest of the text is very unclear.
According to Peet the stele was "almost perfectly preserved", was well-executed and finely coloured.
Meretseger, the "One who loves silence", was worshipped as the protective goddess of the Theban necropolis, often depicted
in the form of a snake or as the Theban peak itself.
This stele was on display in the 1930's and was almost certainly destroyed in 1941. Peet examined it while preparing his
guide to the Gallery and his notes of the inscription are used here (Newberry-Peet,1932,53,11).
Stele dedicated to Meretseger
From Deir el-Medina
19th-20th dynasty
Height: 12 cms
Width: 14.5 cms
Inv. no: M13832
Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
This limestone votive stele was also dedicated to the goddess Meretseger. The single scene is framed within a line border
following the curve of this short, wide stela (possibly the upper half only). Meretseger is depicted with the body of a woman
and a snake's head, she is seated on a throne facing right before a table heaped with offerings. In her right hand she
holds the ankh-sign and in her left is the was-sceptre. She wears a tall, double-plumed crown. Around the scene there are
5 columns of vertical hieroglyphic inscription, giving Meretseger's epithets.

Translation of the text: Meretseger, the Peak of the West, Lady of the Sky, Mistress of all the gods.

The technique of the stele execution was described as good - the lines were clearly carved and the scene was well
proportioned (Newbery-Peet,1932,53,9).
1. Bienkowski, Piotr : Gifts of the Nile : Ancient Egyptian arts and crafts in Liverpool Museum
London : HMSO, 1995
2. Criscenzo-Laycock, G.: A New Ramesside Stela from Deir el-Medina, IN: Ramesside Studies in Honour of K.A. Kitchen / edited by M. Collier and S. Snape, Bolton, 2011, pp. 123-126.
3. Mandeville, Richard: The water-carriers of Deir el-Medina
Study written for his M.A. thesis at the Liverpool University, the text supplied through private e-mail correspondence
4. Eyre, Christopher: The use of documents in Pharaonic Egypt
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2013.
5. Newberry-Peet: Handbook and Guide to the Egyptian Collection on Exhibition in the Public Museums, Liverpool, 1932
6. Oakey, Michael : Liverpool World Museum’s Ancient Egypt Gallery reopens after major expansion
IN: KMT a Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, Vol. 28, Nu. 4, Winter 2017-18, pp. 43-57
7. Shaw, Ian, Nicholson, Paul: British Museum dictionary of ancient Egypt
London: British Museum Press, 1995.
8. Tutankhamun - The Golden Beyond : Tomb Treasures from the Valley of the Kings / edited by André Wiese and Andreas Brodbeck
Basel : Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, 2004.
9. Davis, Benedict G.: Genealogies and personality characteristics of the workmen in the Deir el-Medina community during the Ramesside period. Thesis submitted in accordance with the requirements of the University of Liverpool for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Liverpool : University of Liverpool, February 1996.
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