By David Abbott
A group from Olliers visited the Manchester Museum as part of the firm’s ongoing wellness programme, which gives colleagues the opportunity to enjoy non-work activities in the firm’s time.
“Golden Mummies” is the first exhibition to be put on by the newly re-opened Museum after a long period of closure for refurbishment.
The mummies on display mainly come from the Graeco-Roman period, when Egypt was ruled first by a Greek royal family, the Ptolemies, ending with Cleopatra, and then by the Roman emperors. (300 BCE to 300AD). They were brought back from Egypt by archaelogists in the late Victorian period. They are not from Egyptian royal families, but from the wealthy who could afford elaborate funeral rites. No actual bodies are displayed (although they are there, beneath their coverings), out of respect to the deceased.
The ancient Egyptians hoped to live on after death for eternity with the gods, and believed their gods to have flesh of untarnishable gold, and hair made from semi-precious stones. Therefore, the wealthy had their coffins or death masks decorated with gold leaf, and head coverings painted blue, as the best means of triumphing over death. The deceased are depicted as alive and awake, at the moment of re-birth- magically assuring that this would be the case. People are shown as perfect versions of themselves; even those who died as children appear as if they had grown up, so they could enjoy the afterlife to the full.
This new exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the beliefs of the ancients, and is well worth a visit. The museum is free to enter, and timed entry tickets for the exhibition can be obtained online from the Manchester Museum.