Sacred and Profane

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ISBN: 978-1-904832-80-5

128 Pages

270 x 205 mm (8 x 10 ½ in)

125 colour and 8 b&w illustrations

In association with The University of Birmingham and the Provost and Fellows of Eton College

September 2010


This publication contributes significantly to the wider scholarship and understanding of Egyptian art

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The Myers Eton College collection of Egyptian antiquities is not only one of the finest assemblages of ancient Egyptian decorative art worldwide but also a window into the distant world of travellers in 19th-century Egypt and the Middle East. Educated at Eton College and Sandhurst, Major William Joseph Myers (1858–99) started collecting in Egypt in the 1880s. On Myers’s untimely death in 1899 Eton College became the beneficiary of his collection, diaries and library. Sacred and Profane celebrates this extraordinary bequest and traces through more than 80 ancient Egyptian artefacts two-and-a-half millennia of life and death in ancient Egypt. Statuettes of mortals and gods, mummy masks, jewellery, pottery and papyri are discussed for the first time in a thematic way alongside Roman and Byzantine coins from the rich Barber Institute of Fine Arts collections.

The volume features five essays on travel, archaeology and collecting attitudes in the 19th and early 20th centuries, on travels to the beyond in ancient Egypt, on personal approaches to the sacred in Egyptian art, on papyri in Greco-Roman Egypt, and on the economy and art in Egypt from Alexander to the Arab conquest. Special focus is given to the stunning yet little-known and under-researched Eton-Myers blue faience objects.

Author biographies

Martin Bommas is an Egyptologist, archaeologist, and philologist. Since 2018, he has been Professor and Director of the Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He was formerly senior lecturer in Egyptology, College of Arts and Law, University of Birmingham.

Eurydice Georganteli is lecturer on Art History and Numismatics, Late Antique, Byzantine, and Medieval, Harvard univeristy. She was formerly The Barber Institute curator of the Coin Collection and lecturer in Numismatics and Economic History, College of Arts and Law, University of Birmingham.

Maria Michela Luiselli is an independent scholar and was Honorary Research Fellow in Egyptology, College of Arts and Law, University of Birmingham

Michael Sharp is senior editor for Classics and Byzantine Studies, Cambridge University Press

Table of contents

  1. Forewords by Sir Dominic Cadbury and Lord Waldegrave of North Hill
  2. Preface by Martin Stringer and Ann Sumner
  3. Introduction by Eurydice Georganteli and Martin Bommas
  4. Map of Ancient Egypt
  5. A Visual Chronology of Ancient Egypt
  6. The Myers Eton College Collection of Egyptian Antiquities: Travel, Archaeology and Collecting Attitudes
    in nineteenth-century Egypt by Eurydice Georganteli
  7. Travels to the Beyond in Ancient Egypt by Martin Bommas
  8. The Personal Approach to the Divine in Ancient Egypt by Maria Michela Luiselli
  9. Papyri in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt by Michael Sharp
  10. Economy and Art in Egypt from Alexander the Great to the Arab Conquest by Eurydice Georganteli
  11. Select Bibliography
  12. Index