Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 3 – the Younger Memnon

This head of the pharaoh Ramesses II is one of the heaviest objects in the British Museum. It weighs 7 tons, which is the same weight as a fully grown elephant.

Ramesses II lived about a hundred years after Tutankhamun. When Ramesses II was king, he had a massive temple called the Ramesseum built in his honour. He called it ‘The Mansion of a Million Years’. On either side of the entrance stood a colossal statue of the king.

The remains of one of the two statues can still be seen outside the Ramesseum in Egypt (low down, greenish in colour, between the first and second statues in the picture above). The other one is in the British Museum, brought there three hundred years ago by a circus strongman called ‘Belzoni the Great’. The colossal head of Ramesses II was too heavy for Belzoni to lift, but he was a man of many talents and he had already invented a powerful hydraulic machine that could lift incredibly heavy objects.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

At the time, people in Britain were perfectly happy to take things from Egypt and put them in museums. Today, an increasing number of people think it’s strange and wrong that we still have these ancient Egyptian artefacts in our possession.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 2 – Ankhnesneferibra

This black coffin is covered in hieroglyphs. Imagine trying to chisel all of those tiny, intricate pictures into hard granite.

Ankhnesneferibra was the daughter of a king and was the most important priestess in all of Egypt. She held the title ‘God wife of Amun’, which is written in hieroglyphs like this:

Amun was the name of an Egyptian God, written with pictures of a feather, a board game (viewed sideways) and a zigzaggy line. You will notice Amun regularly in Ancient Egyptian inscriptions, particularly in prayers, spells and pharaoh names, like the well-known boy-king Tutankh-AMUN, for example.

Tutankhamun in hieroglyphs

The picture of the coffin above belongs to the British Museum and is reproduced here for educational purposes only © The Trustees of the British Museum

Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 1 – Sennefer

This block statue of Sennefer came from a temple on the west bank of the River Nile. It is one of the most handsome block statues ever made by the Ancient Egyptians. Look how finely carved and polished Sennefer’s face and hands are.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Sennefer was the mayor of Thebes during the reign of the pharaoh Thutmose III. His name was written using just two hieroglyphs, like this:

Sennefer was buried in a stunning tomb with beautifully painted walls. If you go to Thebes in southern Egypt, you can visit it for yourself.

© UNESCO

Here is a close-up view of Sennefer’s wife presenting him with symbols of life and power. Can you spot Sennefer’s name among the hieroglyphic writing in this painting?

© UNESCO

You can see the block statue of Sennefer for yourself. It is in Room 4 of the British Museum, the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery.