A Day Trip to Edinburgh

For a change of scene we decided to head off on the train to Edinburgh on Saturday. We thought we might take in an exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland and visit the Archaeology bit of the School of History, Classics and Archeology at Edinburgh University for a bit.

Along with members and leaders of Stirling YAC and Edinburgh YAC we had a look at the free to visit The Tomb: Ancient Egyptian Burial exhibition. It comprises of artefacts and a mummy excavated by the talented, Scottish archaeologist Alexander Henry Rhind (1833 – 1863).

Alexander Henry Rhind (1833-63)

Rhind was ill much of his short life and took to spending part of the year in Egypt for the sake of his health. There he pioneered a rigorous, scientific approach to excavation, just as he did in his native Caithness.

Rhind excavated a tomb originally created for the chief of police in the great city of Thebes more than three thousand years ago, at a time when Egypt was a mighty empire. The tomb was robbed and reused over the millennia, for the last time by a well-to-do Egyptian family living under Roman rule, just a few years before the birth of Christ.

The Chief of Police and his wife in their Sunday best
The Chief of Police and his wife in their Sunday best

Everything he excavated Rhind brought back to Scotland to form the basis of the impressive collection of Egyptian artefacts held by the National Museum of Scotland.

The exhibition is just a taste of the amazing finds that document over a thousand years of Egyptian funerary practice and belief. Once the new Egypt and Asia gallery opens in 2018 there will be even more of Rhind’s finds to see.

We had a very pleasant mooch around the exhibition, marvelling as and when appropriate and taking a really long time to choose from the treasures on display in the shop, conveniently placed at the exhibition exit.

We got round much more quickly than anticipated, so we headed down to the Early People section of the Scottish History and Archaeology Galleries to compare and contrast the material remains of the Scottish cultures contemporary with that of Egypt. There were definitely differences.

Tired, hungry and museumed-out we limped our way to George Square for lunch and a rest in the History, Classics and Archaeology common room. Then, refreshed and alert, we were taken by Laura, YAC leader and postgrad. student, to one of the archeology lab.s for an exciting hour and a half of animal and human bones, disease and anatomy with ceramic reconstruction on the side.

Everyone had an amazing time, learning lots and having fun at the same time.  Our thanks to the students who gave up their Saturday afternoons for our benefit.

Fun with human anantomy
Fun with human anatomy
Reading the bones
Reading the (human) bones
Spot the species
Spot the species – animal bones
Tricky ceramics
Tricky ceramics
Busy YAK members
Busy YAK members with bones in foreground
The trickiest of the tricky ceramics finally taking shape!