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9. front of museum 1When the Curator of Egyptology at Manchester Museum, Miss Winifred Crompton, was asked in 1925 why Manchester came to have one of Britain's most important collections of Egyptian antiquities, she replied:
"It is due to the interest taken by one Manchester man, the late Dr. Jesse Haworth, in ancient Egypt. For years, he financed the excavations of Professor Petrie. After the results of his work had aroused public interest all over the country, excavation societies were formed whose members subscribed to the work. The most important of these are the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, directed by Sir William Flinders Petrie, and the Egypt Exploration Society. The rules of these societies provide that all objects found go to public museums in proportion to the amount subscribed from various localities. As Dr. Haworth continued to subscribe largely, Manchester has always received a goodly share" (David, 1992, 93-96).
Jesse Haworth, a successful and highly esteemed textile manufacturer, developed a passion for Egyptology, apparently first aroused by reading Amelia B. Edwards' book A Thousand Miles up the Nile which described the author's own journey. Some five years later, in 1882, Jesse Haworth and his wife travelled up the Nile and on their return never ceased to pursue their interest in Egyptology. A subsequent meeting with Miss Edwards prompted Jesse Haworth to give financial support to the subject, and in 1887 he began to fund Petrie's excavations in Egypt at Illahun, Kahun and Gurob.
By 1911 Jesse Haworth's generous donations of Egyptian antiquities required additional space so that they could be appropriately displayed, and in 1912 Haworth provided two-thirds of the funding required to build an extension which would mainly house the Egyptian collections. This was designed by Alfred Waterhouse's son, Paul. The following year, in recognition of his position as one of the first patrons of scientific excavation, the university conferred on Jesse Haworth the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. A second museum extension, designed by the third generation of the Waterhouse family, was opened by Jesse Haworth's widow in 1927. This provided further display and storage area for the ever increasing Egyptian collections. Haworth, under the terms of his Will, he made further significant donations which included his private collection of Egyptian antiquities.
Manchester became a major centre for Egyptology. Sir William Finders Petrie now held the first chair of Egyptology in Britain, at University College London, and he gave an annual museum lecture in Manchester, providing a progress report on his current excavations. In 1906, his audience listened with rapt attention for an hour and a half, and when he finally appealed for public support for his future excavations, a local society was formed - the Manchester Egyptian Association - with the aim of furthering the study of Egyptology in Manchester. Jesse Howarth was the association's first president, with Professor Boyd Dawkins as its vice-president, and it attracted important and influential speakers such as Sir William Flinders Petrie Professor Grafton Elliot Smith.
On 6 May 1908, the association members and their friends were invited to attend the unwrapping of one of the 12th Dynasty mummies known as the Two Brothers, which had been received the previous year as part of a complete tomb group discovered during the excavations by the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, at the site of Der Rifeh in Middle Egypt. Dr Margaret Murray was the director of this research project - as one of Petrie's most able students, she had been seconded by him to Manchester to undertake duties as the museum's first curator of Egyptology. She was the first woman in Britain to hold a full-time appointment in Egyptology, and eventually in 1924 she became assistant professor at University College London.
The first major Egyptian acquisition made by the Manchester Museum had been the gift of a mummy with its coffins which had belonged to Asru, a Chantress of Amun in the Temple of Karnak. These were presented to the Manchester Natural History Society (the nucleus of the later museum) in 1825, and it was claimed that `This was one of the best preserved mummies in the kingdom.' However, it was Jesse Haworth who contributed most to Manchester's Egyptian collection. In 1890 he and Martyn Kennard (the co-sponsor of Petrie's Fayoum excavations) presented a unique and valuable set of objects of daily use, drawn from the Egyptian town sites of Kahun and Gurob. These constituted one of the best collections of Egyptian antiquities in Britain, and were only the first of a succession of gifts which he went on to make to the museum, mainly acquired from Petrie's excavations which, for nine years, were dependent on Haworth's financial support.
Manchester Museum had come into existence in 1821, when the Manchester Society of Natural History was formed to acquire the collections of a Mr J. L. Phillips. The society was disbanded in 1862 because of financial difficulties, and the governors of Manchester's university (then Owens College) took over the collections and the administration of the museum for the benefit of the students and the public. A new building was erected in 1888 to house the museum; it formed an integral part of the main university building, and was designed by the famous architect, Alfred Waterhouse. Her multidisciplinary scientific study of the mummies of the Two Brothers changed existing attitudes towards the examination of mummified remains. The unwrapping took place in the Chemical Theatre of the university and Margaret Murray ran the proceedings, with the assistance of four other members of staff, and it was watched by five hundred people.


Reference: David, A. R. 1992. The Manchester Mummy Project, in David, A. R. and Tapp, E. (eds.) The Mummy's Tale: The Scientific and Medical Investigation of Natsef-Amun, Priest in the Temple at Karnak, London: Michael O'Mara Books, pp. 93-99.


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