Roman sculptures on display
Two carved stone heads, dating to the Roman period and discovered during excavations ahead of HS2 construction works, have gone on public display for the first time at the Discover Bucks Museum in Aylesbury.
Stylistically dated to the late 1st or early 2nd century, the busts are interpreted as images of ordinary (if rather wealthy) Romans, rather than portraits of imperial figures – possibly part of a family group of sculptures from a mausoleum.
Three sculptures in all were discovered by L-P Archaeology, working for HS2’s Enabling Works Contractor, Fusion JV, during their excavation of the remains of St Mary’s Church in Stoke Mandeville last year (see CA 382 and CA 387). They represent a man, woman, and child, and were recovered from a layer of rubble within a circular ditch. The sculptures appear to have been deliberately damaged before deposition, removing their heads from their torsos; the child’s ‘body’ has not been found.
Having undergone specialist conservation, the two adult portraits are now on loan to the Discover Bucks Museum. They will be displayed until 29 October 2022; for more information, see www.discoverbucksmuseum.org/whats-on/first-chance-to-see-incredible-roman-busts.
Unlocking ancient Egypt at the British Museum
The British Museum has announced an upcoming exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of the decipherment of hieroglyphs.
Until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799, these ancient Egyptian symbols were largely illegible to scholars, representing a huge obstacle to understanding the long-vanished civilisation. The stela’s tripartite inscription in two Egyptian alphabets – hieroglyphs and demotic – and, crucially, the known language of ancient Greek, held the key, and in 1822 Jean-François Champollion cracked the code. From October, over 240 objects (including loans from national and international collections) will be on display to help commemorate this watershed moment and share insights into life in ancient Egypt that it helped to reveal, from love poetry and international treaties to shopping lists, tax returns, and jokes.
Together with the Rosetta Stone and personal notes by some of the figures who raced to decipher its text, highlights of the exhibition will include the richly illustrated papyrus of Queen Nedjmet’s Book of the Dead; measuring over 4m long, it is more than 3,000 years old and rarely on public display. Visitors can also see the 2,600-year-old ‘Enchanted Basin’, a large black granite sarcophagus covered with hieroglyphs and images of gods; a set of canopic jars reunited for the first time since the mid-18th century; and a decorated mummy bandage loaned by the Musée du Louvre in Paris, never-before shown in the UK.
Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt will run from 13 October until 19 February 2023; for more details, see www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/hieroglyphs-unlocking-ancient-egypt.
The Vikings: history on your doorstep
Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life
Until 8 July 2023
Darwin in Conversation
Cambridge University Library
Until 3 December 2022
Picturing the Romans: daily life through tableware
Museum of Archaeology, Palace Green Library, Durham
Until 28 October 2022
Heroes of the Viking World
Banbury Museum & Gallery
Until 6 November 2022
Wales is… Proud
St Fagans National Museum of History
Until 5 March 2023
Last chance to see
The Ness: Its People
Maeshowe Visitor Centre, Orkney
Until 12 August 2022