Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Wigan Egyptology Collection - John Johnson

Over the last 30 years I have visited most of the major European and Egyptian museums so you can imagine how I felt when I heard about the Wigan collection. I rang Linda at the history shop to arrange a visit and this was agreed.

On first seeing the collection to say that I was amazed would be an understatement, even though it is a small collection the artefacts are of a standard second to none, they cover the complete time line of the ancient culture, from the pre-dynastic period(Badari/Nagada) circa 3500bc to the time of the Greek and /Roman periods.

The collection starts with the small black basalt pot from the pre-dynastic period, on inspection the inside shows the ancient artisans drill marks (Stone tipped drill), this pot was made 2000years before Tutankhamun was born.

There is also a burial statue that is in superb condition with hieroglyphs that look as if they have just been done, they show the deceased praising the main Gods of Egypt so that they will protect him in the after-life. This script is being translated by two students of mine Hazel and Rachael. The main coffin parts, one of which dates to 1050 BC, were restored many years ago and  some of the hieroglyphs are damaged which will make it more difficult to completely translate but the drawings are still superb and a credit to the ancient craftsman.

The main part of the collection is the gilded face mask.[only two of this standard are known]. Outside of Royalty I have never seen anything to match this, even in Cairo museum and would be a must for visitors to the town to see. There are also face masks from the Roman period one being a death mask, also of outstanding quality. The selection also includes necklace beads which possibly date to the New Kingdom period.

The Horus Egyptology Society Wigan have been invited to be involved in the project to put these on display for the people of Wigan. The collection was first acquired by Sir John Scott who was born in Leigh but worked in Egypt during the late 19th century. He was in charge of the judiciary for Lower Egypt, He left the collection to his wife who then passed it on to their son. He was the Member of Parliament for Wigan in 1950. He donated it to the people of Wigan and for this reason we feel strongly that it should never leave the town.

It will benefit the local schools and will certainly draw visitors to the town to view the collection. Two the worlds most eminent Egyptologists, Professor Joann Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley have agreed to carry out any forensics on the artefact’s. They are also to be speakers at a day school on the 8th November at the D.W. Stadium – for details ring John Johnson 01253 810104 or the History Shop, Wigan.

John Johnson

Friday, 12 September 2014

The 6 O'Clock Club by Rosalind Richardson

For anybody remotely interested in Egyptology a trip to Egypt has to be on your bucket list. But a trip to Egypt with Horus is an experience altogether different from anything you will experience with Thomas Cook or any other travel company.
A big part of the Horus experience is the famous ,or should I say the 'infamous' 6 o'clock club'. Invitations are verbally issued around the poolside as to what room it will be held that night. Starting time 6 o'clock ....hence the name of the club. Bring your own drink(s) About 5.55 lifts in the Sonesta are stopping at the designated floor. Lost souls are to be seen wandering up and down drink(s) in hand looking for the chosen venue. Usually the sound of laughter is a good indication of the direction in which to walk. An early arrival is essential because good seating is limited. To get a good perch is vital.

The evening opens with John (our leader) recapping the day's events and what the itinerary will be tomorrow After the formalities are over the social side takes over. There is a kind of hierarchy in the seating by the window. John (our leader) Alan (the poet laureate) Dr. Ganga (the magician) and Stan (the elder statesman) A seat is always reserved for Stan who as well as being an authority on Obelisks is also an authority on Parrot jokes!!! Any joke that has ever been written about a parrot is in Stan's bible of parrot jokes. The same jokes are wheeled out year after year, but you always laugh, not because you feel you have too, it's because they are still genuinely funny. Stan is such a lovely man.

Next to Stan usually sits Dr. Ganga ( the magician) One of the funniest things that happened at a 6 o'clock club was on the last night of the holiday. Dr. Ganga would do his party trick of elevating a volunteer sitting on a chair!!I ruled myself out of that one thinking IF the  trick failed it would have been put down to my over indulgence of food and drink over the last fortnight. Maureen was coerced into being the magicians stooge. Being small and slim was a distinct advantage.
A chair was chosen. Maureen was elegantly seated awaiting the 'great elevation' Four other people placed an index finger on her head. We were all assured by the 'Great Ganga' himself that the key to success was silence and concentration, and as sure as eggs are eggs it would work. Maureen would rise, chair and all off the floor. This attempt went on for some considerable time without success. It turned into a scene reminiscent of the Glasgow Empire  on a Saturday night. Perhaps the consumption of alcohol during the attempt played a part in the crowd becoming unsympathetic towards Ganga's attempt to elevate Maureen and the chair.

Ganga was mystified. How could it have failed??? It had definitely worked in Skem. surgery. During the course of the evening meal that followed the dissection of Ganga's technique, conditions, suitability of candidate to be elevated etc.  was discussed at length .It was decided by an unanimous vote 'it was the wrong chair' It was wood. It was too heavy etc. If it had been another chair (or another magician) it would definitely have worked. That was the general consensus of opinion. So, Ganga's reputation as a magician  remained untarnished. It was not his fault. There are so many funny things that happened at the 6 o'clock club. It is lovely to remember them. I hope it carries on and that I will be there once more.

Rosalind Richardson