Blog

Cataloguing the Egyptian Collection before digitisation

By: Patricia Egan, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 01 Aug 2012

For many years Museum scientists have had access to copies (microfiche and more recently digital) of the important specimen and object Collection Registers. What was it like before copies were available?

In the 19th century the Australian Museum was a subscriber to the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF) based in London. This ensured that a selection of the fund’s exploration finds in Egypt would be sent to the museum and was a significant source of the Museum’s Egyptian Collection.

In July 1912 EEF London donated a number of antiquities from Abydos, one of the most ancient cities and significant archaeological sites of Egypt to the Australian Museum. Among the list of objects were beads, pebbles, cartonnage and two ‘Tomb sets’.

Gratefully received by the Australian Museum the objects were catalogued. But which Tomb Set was which?


Museum Director, Robert Etheridge wrote to the EEF in October 1912 seeking clarification. Unfortunately, responded the EEF, an answer could not be immediately provided as the card catalogue had been taken to Egypt with the then current expedition! In an age where response times streched over months, not minutes, Etheridge is told he will have to wait until the expedition returns in Spring before the identification of the individual Tomb Sets would be cleared up.