To mark the 200th anniversary of the decipherment of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, there’s an exhibition that celebrates the female UCL teachers and students who pioneered the teaching of the ancient language.

Many people have worked to develop the study of hieroglyphs including Egyptian scholars, women, and Coptic priests. Their work has not always been credited.

Female teachers and students at UCL were core to these developments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The groundbreaking work of archaeologist, writer, feminist and folklorist Dr Margaret Murray (1863–1963), and her students Margaret (Peggy) Drower and Georgina Aitken, transformed how ancient languages are taught and studied.

Despite her work, publishing books that made learning hieroglyphs more accessible, Dr Margaret Murray was only awarded an honourary doctorate in 1927.

Through notebooks, plaster casts, watercolours and ephemera, this display celebrates these female teachers and students at UCL and the legacies of their work today.

It’s a fairly small display, just a couple of cases and some objects, but it shines a light on an all too common story, of the overlooked women who were critical to a scientific breakthrough.

The exhibition, Women and hieroglyphs: Teaching ancient languages at UCL is at the Petrie Museum until 27th May 2023. Entry is free.

The museum is open Tuesday – Friday 1pm-5pm and Saturday 11am-5pm.

It reopens after the Christmas break on Tues 3rd Jan 2023.

The exhibition is also candidly a really good excuse to pay a visit to the Petrie Museum if you’ve never been before, as it’s a really good museum. It’s rather old-fashioned, with long old display cases packed full of Egyptian artefacts, but that’s its charm.

It’s a bit difficult to find as it’s the end of Malet Place, which is a public but private-looking road off Torrington Place, halfway between Euston and Tottenham Court Road.


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