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Story of ancient Egyptian objects unearthed in Fife published for the first time in PSAS

20th November 2023 | Categories: Publications, Research

The story of the remarkable discovery of a group of Egyptian objects uncovered at Melville House in Fife between 1952 and 1984 is being told in full for the first time in an article published in the upcoming Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

The 18 objects – including a statue head described by curators as a ‘masterpiece of Egyptian sculpture’ – were discovered on three separate occasions, and most are now in National Museums Scotland’s collection. They are the only ancient Egyptian objects to be formally declared Treasure Trove in Scotland. The article, by Dr Elizabeth Goring and Dr Margaret Maitland, examines how these events unfolded and the attempts made to establish how the objects ended up buried at Melville House.

You can read more about the discovery here. Visitors to the National Museum of Scotland today can view the magnificent statue head in the Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery.

Dr Elizabeth Goring said:

“Excavating and researching these finds at Melville House has been the most unusual project in my archaeological career, and I’m delighted to now be telling the story in full. Uncovering ancient Egyptian objects in Fife is clearly unexpected, and the subsequent research to establish the origins of the collection has provided a fascinating tale, albeit one with further mysteries which may never be solved.”

Dr Margaret Maitland, Principal Curator of the Ancient Mediterranean at National Museums Scotland said:

“This is a fascinating collection, made all the more so by the mystery surrounding its origins in this country. The discovery of Egyptian artefacts that had been buried in Scotland for over a hundred years is evidence of the scale of 19th century antiquities collecting and its complex history. It was an exciting challenge to research and identify such a diverse range of artefacts, including some remarkable objects – the bronze priest statuette is a relatively rare form, while the sandstone statue head is a masterpiece of Egyptian sculpture.”

Dr Simon Gilmour, Director of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, said:

“We’re thrilled to publish this extraordinary paper in our annual journal. Since 1851, the Proceedings has shared high quality, cutting-edge research into Scotland’s history and archaeology; over 170 years on, we welcome submissions from anyone wanting to share new stories about Scotland’s past .”

The Proceedings is the Society’s peer-reviewed journal of Scottish history and archaeology. New volumes are published annually, in print and online. They are made available to Fellows on publication, and are made freely accessible to all after two years.

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