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Ancient Egyptian Frogs

Yesterday we had a very special visitor: Joy Kramler. Joy is a Curatorial Assistant at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, and she was visiting us especially to meet some of our curators and to witness for herself our wonderful new ‘Ancient Worlds’ Gallery. It was a real pleasure to meet her, and to also discover that apart from Egyptian art she has another very special interest – Frogs! It turns out that Joy loves frogs, keeps frogs in vivaria at home, and actually focused the research for her Masters Degree especially on the origin and development of Egyptian frog amulets and figures. She had a wealth of interesting related stories to tell…

Apparently, the image of the frog was a most powerful symbol for the ancient Egyptians, and in amulet-form it even pre-dates the scarab beetle, that quintessential Egyptian symbol, by over 1,500 years. Basically, frog amulets were one of the very first amulets to appear in ancient Egypt – before there were even kings! One early ceramic vessel found, which depicts a deceased person in a boat, actually has a frog represented at one end of it  –  it dates to 3,500 BC. Associated with resurrection, the frog as a symbol was also later used by Egyptian Christians on frog lamps, and were also probably one of the last amulets to be made by Romans, therefore spanning over 4000 years of Egyptian history.

Within our Egyptology collections we have several ancient Egyptian frog amulets and artistic Egyptian pieces relating to frogs. Some are included on colourful bracelets and necklaces, others feature as motifs on other significant ancient artefacts. Such frog symbols, which span the ages, also feature on several pieces now included in our fabulous Ancient Worlds.

If you haven’t heard of ‘Ancient Worlds’  at the Manchester Museum then you’re in for a real treat when you next visit, for the transformation of the galleries is just incredible. The combined 3 new galleries highlight our collections from Manchester and the region, and from ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome and Egypt.

Ancient Worlds showcases the best of our outstanding archaeology collections and also reveals the people behind the objects: who made them, who used them, who lost and re-discovered them, who collected, classified and interpreted them. I highly recommend a visit to experience the new galleries for yourself.

Joy appeared to really enjoy Ancient Worlds, and also seeing our live frogs during a tour of the Vivarium. During her visit she met with Campbell Price, our Curator of Egypt and the Sudan, and below you can watch how Campbell and Joy share their interest, over an Egyptian bronze model offering table dating back to approximately 650 BC. Campbell is an extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable senior curator here. To find out more about our Egyptian collection and Campbell’s fascinating work please check out his superb blog at:  Egypt Manchester 


Ancient Worlds         National Gallery of Victoria        Manchester Museum: Egypt

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