Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ashmolean Museum: profiling the spectacular Shrine of Taharqa

Next month Oxfordshire Limited Edition looks at the second gallery in the new suite of Egyptian galleries (Dynastic Egypt and Nubia), opening at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK,  in the last week of November. 

In particular the magazine profiles the spectacular Shrine of Taharqa standing at its centre. This large sandstone shrine built by King Taharqa (690-664 BC) is the only freestanding pharaonic building in the country — and at four metres square is also the biggest object in the Ashmolean Museum. It is an impressive building. And from now on, in its new setting, Taharqa’s shrine will be even more imposing. 

Liam McNamara, assistant keeper for Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the museum, who is in charge of the new displays, said: “We want to try to give a sense of the shrine’s original setting — that is part of a temple complex.

“I have heard visitors sometimes call it a ‘tomb’, but this is not the case. The shrine would have been in a dark enclosed space within the temple,” he said.  “Our idea is to roof a small part of it — the undecorated roof was removed and left behind — and take off the existing hardwood door, leaving an opening so visitors can see inside. I also want to put an object in there — and it will be spot-lit.” 

The shrine was given to the museum in 1936 by the widow of the first Professor of Egyptology at Oxford, Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862-1934). 

He led successive seasons of the Oxford University Excavations in Nubia from 1910 onwards; including recovering Taharqa’s shrine from the sand in the temple of Amun-Re (Amon-Re) at Kawa, together with the wall of a second shrine built a century later by a succeeding king, Aspelta. 

To register for the e-edition of Oxfordshire Limited Edition click HERE. You will be emailed when the magazine is available.

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