Thanks to the kindness of a contact at the Yorkshire Archaeological Society the Manchester Museum is hoping to acquire a small private collection of Egyptology. Campbell Price sent me details about the objects and I recognised a name from the past. Some of the collection originally came from someone called Aquila Dodgson. When I was Curator of Archaeology in Leeds some years ago I acquired a small collection of Egyptology from a Mr Hepper whose family had got it originally from Aquila Dodgson.
Aquila Dodgson (1829-1919) was Secretary of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society and has been described as ‘one of the key players in the history of British Egyptology’ because of his support for people like Flinders Petrie and Amelia Edwards. Dodgson accompanied Sir Flinders Petrie to Egypt in 1891-2 and some of the bead bracelets/necklaces in his collection came from Petrie’s excavations at “Serabit”, i.e. Serabit el-Khadem in the Sinai. Aquila Dodgson had strong links with Leeds, and in fact Leeds Museums and Galleries acquired a few items from Dodgson’s collection in 1945 through a gift made by Dodgson’s son Walter.
Mr Nigel Hepper’s collection had come from Dodgson and consisted mostly of ancient Egyptian antiquities included faience amulets depicting the deities Anubis, Bes, Thoth, Taweret, Isis, Horus, Nephthys, Ptah, Osiris and Shu; Wedjat eye amulets and Djed pillar amulets, bead necklaces, some with amulets depicting the Four Sons of Horus; bronze figurines of Horus and Osiris; a Canopic jar lid of calcite (depicting the baboon-headed god Hapy), small alabaster cosmetics pots, a Predynastic black-rimmed jar a small painted wooden figure, shabti (several of which were fakes), a fired clay mould for making a wedjat eye amulet, several ancient Egyptian pots including two 18th Dynasty jars; a winged scarab, bronze inlay from the eye from a statue, and a group of scarab amulets. Perhaps the most significant item was a wooden shabti of pharaoh Seti I, dated 1405 BC, which was originally collected by Amelia Edwards in 1887.
Mr Hepper published a note on the item in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology (vol.86, 2000). Mr Hepper wrote that this shabti was one of the immense number once in Seti I’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings and was collected by Amelia Edwards and passed by her to Aquila Dodgson.
The Hepper collection was secured for Leeds Museums and Galleries thanks to a £6,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a £1,000 donation from the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, and money from the museums’ own acquisitions budget.
This is not the first time Aquila Dodgson’s name has cropped up in conversation at Manchester, however. A few years ago, after coming to work in Manchester, I received an enquiry from an Australian researcher called Christine Elias. She was working on material in Queen’s College at the University of Melbourne antiquities collection and, guess what? She had found Aquila Dodgson objects! The University of Melbourne received the Egyptian artefacts from Revd James Dodgson, Aquila Dodgson’s brother. Christine Elias wrote her MA thesis on the collection.
We are now in the process of contacting Christine to let her know that more of this historic collection has come to light.