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Creatures of the Nile exhibition to open at the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum

4 weeks ago

Creatures of the Nile exhibition to open at the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum
Creatures of the Nile

Opening its doors from 4 May – 5 October 2024, Creatures of the Nile delves into the fascinating world of animals in ancient Egyptian and Sudanese society and culture.

With over 250 artefacts on display, many of which have never been publicly exhibited before, Creatures of the Nile promises an immersive exploration into the intricate relationship between humans and animals in one of the world’s oldest civilisations.

Ploughing and harvesting in the afterlife, from the Book of the Dead of Bakhenkhons. Credit: Creatures of the Nile / Victoria Gallery and Museum
Ploughing and harvesting in the afterlife, from the Book of the Dead of Bakhenkhons. Credit: Creatures of the Nile / Victoria Gallery and Museum

Among the remarkable artefacts is one of the earliest known depictions of a domesticated dog, a segment from the 3,500-year-old Book of the Dead, and a bronze statue housing a mummified cat. These treasures offer a glimpse into the respect and significance given to animals in ancient Nile-centric civilisations.

In the ancient lands of Egypt and Sudan, animals occupied a central role in societal depictions and religious beliefs. Gods often took on the form of animals, with iconic representations of divine power depicted in objects ranging from funerary stones to protective amulets.

Fragment of cartonnage from an Egyptian mummy, in the form of the mythical Hippocampus creature. Credit: Creatures of the Nile / Victoria Gallery and Museum
Fragment of cartonnage from an Egyptian mummy, in the form of the mythical Hippocampus creature. Credit: Creatures of the Nile / Victoria Gallery and Museum

Creatures of the Nile also delves into the realm of mythical creatures, showcasing striking depictions such as the hippocampus—a creature with the head of a horse and the body of a snake.

From the spiritual to the practical, animals played a pivotal role in everyday life, serving as sources of food and labour. Pages from the Book of the Dead illustrate scenes of oxen toiling in the fields of the afterlife, while objects crafted from rare materials like ivory and ostrich eggshell showcase the artistic ingenuity of ancient craftsmen.

The goddess Isis, shown as a woman with the wings of a kite, from a temple at Meroë in Sudan. Credit: Creatures of the Nile / Victoria Gallery and Museum
The goddess Isis, shown as a woman with the wings of a kite, from a temple at Meroë in Sudan. Credit: Creatures of the Nile / Victoria Gallery and Museum

the exhibition examines climate change in the Nile Valley. Collaborating with colleagues from the Leverhulme funded Biodiversity in Egyptian Archaeology during Societal Transitions project, the exhibition features the impact of climate change and human over-exploitation of resources.

Tools used for hunting, including a stunningly preserved 4,000-year-old throw stick used for catching birds, feature alongside a timeline showing the appearance and disappearance of species in Egypt.

For more info on Creatures of the Nile click here.

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