Egypt and Sudan
There are more than 7,000 objects in the Oriental Museum's Ancient Egyptian collections, ranging in date from the Pre-Dynastic (5500-3100 BCE) to the Coptic periods (after 395 CE). These objects cover almost all categories, from monumental sculpture to incredibly well-preserved woven sandals.
The core of the collection was formed by Algernon Percy, the Fourth Duke of Northumberland (1792-1865). The Duke had developed a fascination for Egypt following his visit to the country in 1826 and accumulated a collection of over 2,000 objects, which he proudly displayed at the family seat of Alnwick Castle. This collection was then added to by his nephew, Henry, Earl Percy (1871-1909). Thanks to the generous assistance of Dr and Mrs H N Spalding, Durham University was able to raise the funds to acquire the collection in 1949.
The collection was further enhanced in the years that followed by the donation of artefacts from Durham University-supported archaeological excavations carried out by W B Emery and the Egypt Exploration Society at Qasr Ibrim, Buhen and Saqqara during the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1971, the scope of Durham’s collection was substantially increased by the acquisition of additional material collected by Sir Henry Wellcome, who had amassed an enormous number of artefacts relating to of archaeology, anthropology and the history of human health. The Oriental Museum was fortunate to receive a selection of around 4,000 Egyptian artefacts, greatly strengthening the Museum’s holdings of amulets, stone tools and other Pre-Dynastic objects.
The importance of this Egyptian collection was formally recognised in 2008 when it was granted elite Designated Collection status. in recognition of its national and international significance.