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Egypt’s Scattered Heritage: the distribution of Egyptian archaeology to the world’s museums

A public discussion at the Iziko Slave Lodge

Media images and interview requests, please contact:
Zikhona Jafta on 021 481 3838 or at

Iziko Museums of South Africa, in collaboration with the Egyptian Society of South Africa (TESSA), will host an event on Egypt’s Scattered Heritage: the distribution of Egyptian archaeology to the world’s museums at the Iziko Slave Lodge on Saturday, 11 January 2020 at 14h30. The talk will be presented by Dr Alice Stevenson – international archaeologist, museum curator, scholar of Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egyptian archaeology, and Professor in Museum Studies in the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.

Artefacts excavated in Egypt from 1880 onwards are the focal point of this presentation. So widespread across the globe, these discoveries and objects are represented in a number of diverse locations – and Dr Alice Stevenson will consider how and why they came to hold such legacies, both for museums globally and for Egyptian communities.

To reserve a space for this presentation, please RSVP to Jean Smith of TESSA at or on 073 189 9626.

Following the discussion on Egypt’s Scattered Heritage, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the exhibition, KEMET: Life in Ancient Egypt. Like many museums around the world, Iziko Museums holds ancient Egyptian artefacts – some of which became a part of Iziko’s Egyptian collection over a century ago.

A number of these historical objects are currently on display in the updated exhibition, KEMET: Life in Ancient Egypt at the Slave Lodge. Here, Iziko looks at what made the ancient Egyptians so remarkable, what they contributed to the modern world, and whether there are similarities between our societies.

KEMET: Life in Ancient Egypt also explores how ancient Egypt shaped our world today, and investigates various topics relating to writing systems, science and technology, beliefs and religion, recreation and adornment, and professions in ancient Egyptian times. Exhibited alongside the restored displays, is an Augmented Reality (AR) game – created in partnership with students from the Friends of Design – Academy of Digital Arts – which brings the past back to life, and demonstrates how new technologies can successfully augment the museum experience. The AR game tells the story of an ordinary Egyptian as he passes through this life to the next. A downloadable smartphone App uses the phone’s camera to provide visitors with additional information.

RSVP to Jean Smith of TESSA at or on 073 189 9626 to reserve your seat at Egypt’s Scattered Heritage: the distribution of Egyptian archaeology to the world’s museums.

Please note that the event is free of charge, however standard museum entrance fees apply – R30 per adult, and R15 per child, pensioner or South African student.





Issued by: Ellen Agnew
Communications Coordinator: Iziko Museums of South Africa
Telephone: 021 481 3830 Email:
Issued on behalf of the Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa



Established on 4 November 1996 (coincidentally the anniversary of the discovery of the first step to Tutankhamun’s tomb) in Cape Town, The Egyptian Society of South Africa (TESSA) has since hosted a number of lectures and events – specifically dedicated to the study and enjoyment of the glories of ancient Egypt. Most notably of these include national lecture tours of South Africa by Professor Kent Weeks of the American University in Cairo and the Theban Mapping Project; national lecture tours by Professors Mostafa el Abbadi and Azza Kararah of the University of Alexandria; an address by Dr Zahi Hawass – Secretary General, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities; and a visit from Dr Toby Wilkinson of both Durham and Cambridge Universities.

TESSA membership is open to anyone and everyone who has a fascination with Egypt’s mysterious past.


About Iziko’s Egyptian Collection

The major part of Iziko’s Egyptian collection originates from the Petrie Collection. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853 – 1942) was a British archaeologist and Egyptologist – making valuable contributions to Egyptian archaeology through his discoveries and methods used. In the late 19th century, most early archaeologists in Egypt 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’.

The objects in the Iziko collection come from sites excavated by Petrie on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Egypt (BSAE) at Tarkhan (67km south of Cairo). Petrie’s excavations here were done over two seasons: from 1911 to 1912, and from 1912 to 1913. Over 2000 graves were excavated at Tarkhan – and most found artefacts date back to the late Predynastic and first Dynasty (known archaeologically as the Naqada III period, c. 3325-2667 BCE). During this time, Egypt was undergoing a transition from different autonomous regions to a unified state – and the site of 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. Tarkhan has also provided the earliest evidence, so far, for the usage of the hieratic script (a cursive version of hieroglyphs).

Ancient Egyptian artefacts ended up in museums all over the world. The Iziko objects came to Cape Town when Petrie gifted a selection of material excavated at Tarkhan to the South African Museum – today the Iziko South African Museum. The artefacts arrived here in 1912 and 1913, with permission from the Egyptian government – and with the intention of promoting the appreciation of Egypt as one of the world’s earliest civilisations. The 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. 


About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)

Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium and Digital Dome, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and public benefit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia and Planetarium and Digital Dome). Visit our webpage at, join our online community on Facebook (, Instagram (@izikomuseumssa) or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions.

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