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A Fascination in Ancient History

June 06, 2017

We all have our own interests and fascinations. Mine, is, and has been for many years, ancient history and the discovery of lost knowledge. My fascination with ancient history was sparked by a television program focusing on the history surrounding Tutankhamun and the golden age of the New Kingdom Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. My interest in Egyptology started and evolved from the age of 8 when I was given an Egyptian faience amulet depicting the dwarf deity Bes. This was only a small amulet, but it was well detailed with a suspension hole through the centre which I suspended from a piece of black cord I bought from the supermarket. This tiny piece of Egyptian faience really inspired my interest and caught my eye when searching for antiquities. 

As a young collector, my budget was fairly low and I had to select my items carefully to be sure of their authenticity. The first item I purchased by myself was a small Third Intermediate Period shabti made from a bright turquoise faience with a darkened tripartite wig with a sashed headband tied at the back inscribed to Mut-en-ipet (Mwt-n-ip3t). The translation on the front reads ‘I am Mut-en-ipet, Justified!’ A similar reference can be seen in ‘The Shabti Collections publication’ (4) by Glenn James. This example can be seen as a reference at the Stockport Museum; Item number: STOPM 19977.119.

Purchasing such a wonderful item only inspired my interest further and I continued to collect other varieties of Egyptian amulets such as a Tauret amulet made of bright green faience; a Cornelian Ib Heart amulet from the New Kingdom with a suspension hole through the centre; and a bright faience Wadjet amulet. 

Although my fascination with Egyptology and Egyptian antiquities was growing, so was my fascination with other beautiful ancient objects.  The diverse Greek and South Italian cultures captured my imagination. I discovered aesthetically pleasing examples of Greek South Italian pottery with brightly detailed and varied designs and motifs from Apulia, Campania and Gnathia - to mention just a few of the areas.   

As my knowledge expanded, so did my eye for Roman antiquities and their beautiful glass, pottery and jewellery designs. I purchased a finely crafted intaglio ring with an image of the illustrious Minerva goddess. This inspired my love of Roman jewellery and anything handcrafted by the Roman artisans. The Romans made pottery, glass and other utilitarian items in mass quantity to supply their large empire. Although these were everyday items, many demonstrate fine craftsmanship and originality.  

Almost all the antiquities we find on the market are examples of items that had a use in everyday life, either functionally or symbolically. They are a tangible history of how the ancients lived, thought and felt : from burial amulets in the Egyptian civilisation; to stunningly decorative pottery made in Greece and its South Italian colonies; through to Roman and Byzantine cultures and their beautiful and functional glass, pottery and jewellery. 

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