Photographing Egyptology at the Garstang Museum

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The Garstang Museum of Archaeology is the departmental museum for the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. The university’s where I studied Egyptology, so it’s a place close to my heart.

I’m excited to share with you that I’ll be getting my hands dirty at the Garstang with some photographic projects. The curator, Dr Gina Criscenzo Laycock, and I studied for our Masters together, so it’s been lovely to catch up with an old friend and get the opportunity to start this project.

The project hasn’t completely taken form yet, and will probably continue to evolve as time goes on. However, what I do know is that I’ll be up at the Garstang quite frequently for the foreseeable future. I’ll be helping them with some photography and building up my own personal portfolio that I can then mould into future projects. My personal vision is to represent the artefacts in my own artistic way and to make good use of my macro lens to get up really close and personal with details that might ordinarily pass by the human eye.

Arrangements are still loose right now, but I’m going to the museum on Wednesday for my first photography session, so I’ll share more after that.

In the mean time, here’s some photos I took a few weeks ago at the museum of a carving of a statue of the goddess Hathor in her bovine form. The study was to test out some of my lenses to see what they were capable of, and also to show Gina a few ideas for my project.

Hathor at the Garstang Museum

The sculpture is a fragment, quite damaged in places. It’s mounted in protective black foam and is on display in the museum.

An ancient Egyptian carving of of the goddess Hathor as a cow. There are hieroglyphic inscriptions around her
Fragment of a statue of Hathor in her bovine form (Garstang Museum of Archaeology)

This is a less ‘clinical’/informative depiction, and a more ‘artistic’ portrait of Hathor.

The statue of the Egyptian goddess Hathor at the Garstang Museum from the side.
Looking beautiful in black and white

I took this close-up to highlight not only the beauty of the shape of her eye, but also the detail in the surface of the stone.

A close-up of an eye on a statue of the Egyptian goddess Hathor
The eye of Hathor

This is the name Hathor – Hwt-Hr in Egyptian (hoot-hor), meaning ‘the temple of Horus’ (Hathor was the wife of Horus). ‘Hathor’ is the Greek rendering of the Egyptian name.

You can see this bit of detail towards the top left of the statue in the first photo. The surface is a little uneven, and I could’ve done with focus-stacking it, but it gives you an idea of the kind of detail you can home in on.

The hieroglyphs writing out the name of the Egyptian goddess Hathor
The name of Hathor in hieroglyphs

This is a detail of one of the cartouches (the oval shapes which contained royal names). It’s not a photo of great beauty, but I took it to be able to see the remnants of paint. You can see this cartouche just to the right of Hathor’s cheek in the first photo.

The top part of an ancient Egyptian cartouche with two deities sitting facing each other.
Part of the cartouche on the Hathor statue. Remnants of paint are still visible

This lucky Egyptian’s receiving cool water to drink from the goddess, and is the face you can see at the bottom right corner of the sculpture. I took this side-on with the macro lens to exaggerate the selective focus and make the face the main focus.

A classically ancient Egyptian face, carved in stone
An Egyptian receiving cool water to drink from Hathor

You may not be able to guess straight away what this is. It’s fragments of gold leaf just where the right ear is joined to the head. When I showed this to Gina, she was surprised to see that there’s a piece of straw on the stone. This might be from the packing material used when John Garstang brought the sculpture back from Egypt a century ago.

A close-up of some flakes of gold leaf on a stone statue of the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor
Remnants of gold leaf on the ear of Hathor

So, there you have it. A few teasers of what’s to come and a portrait of a goddess. I hope this first post gives you an idea of the direction I’m hoping to head in with this project. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’ll keep you updated along the way.

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Unless otherwise stated, all content and photos on this site are © Julia Thorne. It’s a common misconception that images online are free from copyright. Copyright laws still stand. Please feel free to share online, but only with a link back here or to the relevant social media account. If you’d like to use any of my photos, please email me at julia@tetisheri.co.uk. Thank you.

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Eleanor Scott
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Wonderful photographs. Keep going with this. It’s the detail that’s so engrossing.

Jim Liddell
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Jim Liddell

Great stuff, Julia!
If this is a sample of what you intend on the site., I look forward to the rest of your images.