Pot luck unearths missing piece of 3,500-year-old Egyptian dish

10 Dec 2019 11:12
Published by: Daniel Almond


A CHANCE discovery has led to a 3,500-year-old Ancient Egyptian dish joining Bolton Museum’s Egyptology gallery.


In March, former Keeper of Egyptology at Bolton Museum, Tom Hardwick, was looking at objects in a private collection in Germany when he stumbled upon a shallow blue bowl depicting half a lion’s head.

Tom, who worked in Bolton from 2005 to 2009, thought that the bowl might be a match for a lion-headed fragment owned by Bolton Museum.

He contacted the museum as the dish was due to go on sale at London’s Bonhams auction house in July.

Current museum curator Ian Trumble took the Bolton piece to see if the two sections joined – and they were a perfect match.

Ian said: “We had swapped measurements and various angled photos over several months, but the only way we could be absolutely sure the two bits fitted together was to physically join them – and it was quite a magical feeling.

“After carrying the fragment 200 miles to London, both myself and the staff at Bonhams gave a little gasp when the two bits joined.

“What was once a modest little fragment, probably unlikely to be displayed, is now able to go on permanent display. It’s a small but beautiful piece.

“It would have been sad if it had been sold to a private collector and disappeared for another 80 years, now it can be enjoyed by everyone.”

The blue-glazed bowl fragments date from the time when Thutmose III ruled Egypt in around 1480 BC.

Thanks to the generous cooperation of Bonhams and a consortium of donors, Bolton Museum was able to acquire the matching piece.

The purchase was partly funded by the Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society, with the dish donated in memory of Mr V. Anthony Donohue.

An Egyptologist and archaeologist, Anthony was a member of the society since its foundation in 1958 and was a good friend of Bolton Museum for over sixty years.

The two sections have now been painstakingly attached together by museum conservator Pierrette Squires.

The dish now takes prides of place in Bolton Museum’s Egyptology gallery, alongside the exhibition’s full-size recreation of Thutmose III’s tomb.


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