The Reverend Colin Campbell and Egyptology

detail of Egyptian tomb painting by Rev Colin CampbellThe Scottish collector and traveller, the Rev Colin Campbell travelled in Egypt at the turn of the century and donated his collection to the Hunterian Museum in 1925. His donation includes thirteen paintings executed by him on a grand scale, copying the scenes in the Egyptian tombs which he visited. These are significant to the history of Egypt, as they were created at the beginning of the 20th century and preserve images which have subsequently been damaged over time.

Reverend Campbell's paintings are a wonderful resource - not just for their subject matter, but because they represent Scottish Egyptological interest at the turn of last century. Their life-size scale and their faithful rendering of original colours make them an invaluable teaching tool. They also allow the prospect of being able to reconstruct the greater part of an entire 18th dynasty Theban tomb (Menna's).

The paintings have now been conserved and high quality digital images have been created. There are plans for further research and a future exhibition of all the paintings, particularly those from Menna’s tomb which allow visitors to experience the scenes on the walls as if they were really there. Few - if any - institutions which possess similar facsimile paintings have the potential to do this.

Rev Campbell's donation also includes ostraca [inscribed pieces of pottery or stone] and papyri. The hieratic ostraca [hieratic is a cursive form of ancient Egyptian writing] are mostly hymns, magical, literary, administrative, legal and economic texts. The papyri include a fragment of "The Book of the Dead". This was a manual to assist the deceased in the afterlife and comprised a collection of hymns, spells, and instructions.

The Hunterian works closely with Dr Angela McDonald who teaches Egyptology at University of Glasgow's Short Courses. She got her doctorate in Egyptology from Oxford University, specialising in Egyptian language. She's written several books for the British Museum Press and is co-director of the Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project.