Disability and the British Museum collection
3 December 2020

3 December is International Day of Disabled Persons. To mark the occasion, we’re exploring some ongoing research into the history of disability in the collection through six objects selected by staff and volunteers.

Depicting the dead: ancient Egyptian mummy portraits
27 October 2020

Senior scientist Caroline Cartwright explores how these fascinating objects were made, and what they can tell us about the people they portray.

Historical city travel guide: Kulubnarti, Sudan, late 12th century
23 July 2020

Journey back nearly 1,000 years and travel up the Nile to explore the medieval Nubian city of Kulubnarti – now in the north of modern-day Sudan.

The British Museum Membercast: Nefertiti’s face
26 June 2018

This month Iszi presents the Members’ exclusive lecture from Joyce Tyldesley and explores the creation of a cultural icon, from its ancient origins to its modern context: its discovery, its display, and its dual role as a political pawn and artistic inspiration.

A sip of history: ancient Egyptian beer
25 May 2018

As part of the Pleasant vices series, food historian Tasha Marks invited brewers Michaela Charles and Susan Boyle to help her recreate a 5,000-year-old beer.

World’s earliest figural tattoos discovered on 5,000-year-old mummies
1 March 2018

New research has revealed the world’s earliest figural tattoos on two natural mummies in the British Museum, including the oldest known example of female tattooing.

From history, with love… 14 objects to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day
13 February 2018

For Valentine’s Day, we’ve compiled 14 sensational smooches and other symbols of love from around the world. Pucker up…

What Black History Month means to me
9 October 2017

Playwright, producer and director Patricia Cumper is also a British Museum Trustee. Here, she looks at what Black History Month has meant to her, and how the British Museum can help to tell these stories to the world.

Inheriting the most iconic object at the British Museum
15 July 2017

Ilona Regulski is Curator of Egyptian Written Culture at the British Museum. This includes looking after one of the most iconic objects in the world! Here, she shares what she has learnt since becoming the latest custodian of the Rosetta Stone.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Rosetta Stone
14 July 2017

You’ve probably heard of the Rosetta Stone. It’s one of the most famous objects in the British Museum, but what actually is it? Take a closer look…

Giving a voice to ancient Egyptian poetry
15 March 2017

How do you capture the ancient resonances of phrases that mean nothing to modern audiences? How do you invest them with meaning and emotion without a set of explanatory footnotes that kill all spontaneity? Oxford University professor Richard Bruce Parkinson worked with actress and writer Barbara Ewing to record a dramatic reading of one of the finest works of Egyptian poetry The Tale of Sinuhe. 

Uncovering a colourful past
9 January 2017

The hidden colours of an ancient Egyptian coffin are revealed through a combination of analysis and non-invasive multispectral imaging techniques. Here Joanne Dyer and Nicola Newman shed light on the process.

A medieval alchemical book reveals new secrets
5 February 2016

Bink Hallum and Marcel Marée discuss hieroglyphic texts on display in the Egypt: faith after the pharaohs exhibition and in particular the 18th-century copy of the Book of the Seven Climes.

Copts of the Nile: the Coptic community in Egypt today
4 January 2016

The exhibition Egypt: faith after the pharaohs, examines religious identity in the first millennium AD, when Egypt became first a majority Christian population and later, Muslim. Today, Egyptian Christians, or Copts, are a significant minority. The extraordinary collections of the British Museum allow us to explore religious identities in Egypt up to the present, here through contemporary photography.

3D-imaging the Assyrian reliefs at the British Museum: from the 1850s to today
19 November 2014

Computer 3D technology is being increasingly adopted in museums to aid with conservation, curatorial research and interpretation. Here Matthew Cock explains how scans of the British Museum’s collection of Assyrian reliefs take by a team CyArk provide a fantastic resource that we can use to help people better understand and engage with these objects.

Colourful glass adornments from Egypt: an 18th-dynasty enigma
31 July 2014

Colourful beads for collars and wigs or earrings? Anna Hodgkinson has been updating over 200 of the Collections online record of items of glass jewellery from the New Kingdom in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan.

Tattoos in ancient Egypt and Sudan
26 June 2014

Due to the nature of human remains from ancient Egypt and Nubia, evidence for tattooing is scarce. However in the Ancient lives, new discoveries exhibition, one of the mummies on display is so well preserved the British Museum has located a tattoo and other marks on her skin. Marie Vandenbeusch discusses the significance of this discovery. 

In respect of the dead: human remains in the British Museum
12 June 2014

Alexandra Fletcher discusses some of the ethical and practical issues associated with caring for and displaying human remains in the British Museum collection.

A new look at ancient Egyptian textiles
2 June 2014

Amandine Mérat and Emily Taylor have been working on reordering the Museum’s Egyptian textiles collection not by provenance or date but by technique. By conducting a close visual examination of technique, and drawing on knowledge of their cultural background, they hope to determine the possible original function of many of the textiles.

New evidence of human cancer found at ancient Amara West
17 March 2014

Cancer is one of the world’s most common causes of death today, but there is little evidence from before industrialisation: almost nothing is known about the history of the disease in the past. Michaela Binder and Neal Spencer discuss illuminating new evidence of early human cancer.

Amara West 2012: the first glimpses of ancient living conditions and health
13 December 2012

Researcher Michaela Binder reflects on four months of analysis on skeletons from the ancient Egyptian town of Amara West, and what this new research can tell us about how they lived.

Virtual autopsy: discover how the ancient Egyptian Gebelein Man died
16 November 2012

This year, British Museum curators have collaborated with scientists and medical experts to perform a CT scan of a naturally-preserved mummy know as the Gebelein Man. Detailed images created from the scans’ high resolution X-rays allow us to look inside his body and learn about his life – and death – in ways never before possible. Daniel Antoine tells us what we have been able to discover about the Gebelein Man.

The art (and science) of a colourful, cross-culturally dressing statue
2 November 2012

Following our post last week about a cross-cultural statue of Horus, British Museum scientist, Joanne Dyer explains how we know what he once looked like.

Pigment and power dressing in Roman Egypt
26 October 2012

While preparing the limestone sculpture of Horus for display, Curator Elisabeth R. O’Connell had a chance to work with British Museum Scientist Joanne Dyer to identify some of the pigments that were used on the sculpture. Along with some additional analysis using an innovative imaging technique to detect pigment in areas not visible to the naked eye, the pair was able to suggest a colour reconstruction. Here Elisabeth discusses the outcome.

What is a Book of the Dead?
22 September 2010

John Taylor is the curator of the ‘Journey through the afterlife: ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead‘ exhibition, a hugely popular programme that opened at the British Museum in November, 2010. In this article he expands on one of the most popular and fascinating objects to have appeared: The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.