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Egyptian Archaeology and the Museum

Abstract

The relationship between excavation and museums is often assumed to be linear, with artifacts removed from the field and transferred to a museum. This article, however, envisages a more complex connection between the two based on the premise that archaeological context is a continuous process rather than a static setting. The article’s departure point is the legacy and history of collections that were excavated in Egypt and widely distributed to the world’s museums in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These collections comprise not only excavated artifacts, but also the related documents of fieldwork and finds distribution. As a whole, this material allows for continual contextualization as the colonial legacy of archaeology in Egypt, and the hyper-reality of its presentation in museums, is confronted. Concepts such as the contact zone, indigenous archaeologies and radical transparency are just a few of the ways these issues might be addressed. Museum assemblages also permit a critical assessment of both the contemporary and possible future relationships between Egyptian archaeology in the field and museums

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