Thursday, September 18, 2014

News: Sekhemka statue should be part of history UK's national curriculum - Campaign

Activist group launches a campaign to include the ancient Egyptian statue in a new section of the UK's national curriculum

The ancient Egyptian funerary statue Sekhemka should have been included in a new section of the school curriculum in the UK, a campaign group has suggested. With the start of the academic year early this month, British school children are set to learn about the history of the world through 100 objects from British museums, as part of the national history curriculum.

These objects include an Egyptian mummy and an Arabic encyclopedia of medicine.

It is hoped the range of artefacts, which are up to 700,000 years old, will help spark an interest for students aged 5 - 14. The Save Sekhemka Action Group has asked for the 4,500 year-old statue to be included in the scheme, arguing that doing so “would have saved a unique and wonderful antique artifact for the UK.”

Egyptologists say the statue, believed to show Sekhemka with his wife Sitmerit, was found during the nineteenth century when the search for antiquities in Egypt gained pace.

It is believed one of the tombs discovered in the burial city of Saqqara at that time belonged to Sekhemka, who was an administrator in the Royal Court in the Old Kingdom during the Fifth Dynasty (2700BC-2250BC).

The invaluable statute, housed in Northampton museum for over 150 years, was sold two months ago to an unknown collector for £15.76 million, despite an outcry both from international observers and from Egyptians.

Sekhemka was given by the Marquis of Northampton to Northampton Museum as gift in around 1870. If the statue was a part of the educational scheme, it would have enhanced the reputation and attraction of Northampton’s museums and kept it safe from the present turmoil in the Middle East, the action group said in a letter to the Times.

The letter said that the public lost the statue “thanks to the inaction on the part of our large museums.”

The action group has spent the last two years trying to stop the sale, warning the public might not be able to view again if it were sold to a private collector.  “At any time during the last two to four years the British Museum, encouraged by other museums, could have broached the possible inclusion of Sekhemka in the History Project,” wrote Gunilla Loe, the group’s chair.

She reiterated that the legal agreement between Northampton Borough Council and Lord Northampton granting him 45 percent of the auction price in exchange for giving up his ownership claim to the statue in favour of the council is unethical. Her group believes that selling the statute is “collective loss of a unique artifact that had given pleasure and awe and knowledge to generations of people.”
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