Among the 450 objects related to UWinnipeg’s Hetherington Collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, UWinnipeg recent graduate Luther Sousa was able to read the hieroglyphics on two wooden artifacts: one is a miniature hoe, and the other a set of miniature rockers. These objects were symbolically significant in ancient Egyptian culture, and, based on Sousa’s initial research, were likely inclusions in a foundation deposit of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri*. Sousa was able to read the hieroglyphs on the UWinnipeg objects, and then confirmed his identification via a comparison with very similar objects currently held by The Garstang Museum of Archaeology at the University of Liverpool.
The current work focuses on reading the entire line of hieroglyphics and developing the historical and social context of the objects. It builds on a previous survey and cataloguing of the collection conducted by the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (SSEA) team when the cartouche was noted.
“The glyphs strongly suggest that the objects belonged to Queen Hatshepsut from the 18th dynasty of ancient Egyptian kings,” said Sousa. “The writing includes her cartouche, as well as the name of the location of Hatshepsut’s temple.”
“This is a remarkable find,” stated the Hetherington Collection’s curator, Val McKinley. “In addition to adding to our understanding of Egyptian history and our institutional history, when students participate in discoveries like this it is inspirational for other students. Luther is continuing with research on the Hatshepsut artifacts, but we are also developing other student projects and including other departments in the research. This provides inter-disciplinary opportunities for UWinnipeg students and faculty members.”
Dr. Doug Goltz (Department of Chemistry) and student Rebecka Dumontet are among those who are also working on the collection.
The A.E. Hetherington Collection has been at the University of Winnipeg since the early 1900’s. The circumstances of the acquisition of the collection are a mystery, but what is known is that the objects are authentic, and that they were sent to the University in at least two shipments, one in 1903, and another after 1925, most likely through the Egyptian Exploration Society. The objects represent several dynasties from multiple sites and include lamps, storage jars, domestic dishware, stone cutting and scraping tools, bone game pieces, funerary figurines called shabtis, and brass Osiris figurines.
* Hatshepsut artifacts were excavated during the 1886-88 field seasons by Henri Edouard Naville at Deir el-Bahari (the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut) on behalf of the Egyptian Exploration Fund project. English archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter (made famous for discovering the tomb of the 18th dynasty pharaoh Tutankhamen) was among Naville’s assistants.