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University of Reading Museum Event Exploring Ancient Greek and Egyptian Beliefs About Life After Death

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Visitors can take a journey to the underworld next month at an interactive University of Reading museum event exploring Ancient Greek and Egyptian beliefs about life after death.

life after death
NileBoat1/NileBoat2: A typical ancient Egyptian tomb offering symbolising the transport of the dead person. or their soul. from life to the afterlife.

The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, on the University’s Whiteknights campus, will allow guests to meet and interact with ancient gods and fallen warriors, get their heart weighed and play Senet as they make their way to the afterlife.

The “Life After Death” Event Timings

The Museum is hosting the ‘Late’ event, titled ‘Live forever, Welcome to the Underworld’, on 19 November from 6pm-10pm as part of the national Being Human Festival, an annual celebration of the humanities.

There will also be arts and crafts activities and the chance to see real ancient Greek and Egyptian artefacts relating to the afterlife on display in the Museum.

Ure Museum

Dr Claudina Romero Mayorga, Ure Museum Education Officer, said: “In keeping with the 2021 festival theme of renewal, we are recreating the ancient Egyptian and Greek underworlds, which were not about death at all, but about regeneration and rebirth.

life after death
Lekythos: An ancient Greek white lekythos (oil container) depicting a young man at the left side of a tomb or funerary monument, and a woman to the right bringing offerings and performing a gesture associated with mourning.

“Ancient Greeks and Egyptians believed that they had to perform certain rituals or pass obstacles after they died in order to reach immortality. This event is a unique opportunity to not only see some of the beautiful items ancient people had placed in their tombs thousands of years ago, but experience first hand the stories depicted on them.”

The Ure Museum contains one of the UK’s most important collections of archaeological items from Ancient Greece, plus Egyptian, Cypriot and Roman artefacts, historical documents like photographs, maps and diaries, modern collections of art, and information about the research of its founders Annie and Percy Ure.

Opening Times

The Museum is open Tuesday to Thursday from 9am-4.30pm, but will extend its opening hours for the special event, which will see it recreate the Field of Reeds, from Ancient Egyptian myth, and the Ancient Greek paradise the Elysian Fields.

The 2021 Being Human festival comprises more than 200 events themed around ‘Renewal’, alluding to the recovery process the world faces once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

Being Human is the only national festival of the humanities. It is organised by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

The festival aims to champion the excellence of humanities research in the UK, highlight its relevance today, and showcase how the humanities help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others and the challenges we face in a changing world.

The largely online 2020 festival reached an estimated audience of 30,000, and featured two events at the Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) based on the University’s London Road campus.

The Museum hosted a virtual evening event exploring themes of light and darkness, harvest and festivals, community and celebration, while English Literature lecturer Dr Yasmine Shamma led an exhibition on refugees and displacement, focusing on the lives and traditions of people forced to flee conflict in Syria.

University of Reading

The University of Reading has the highest concentration of Fellow of the British Academy for the subject of Archaeology, with four active academics and two emerita.

Reading has also partnered with the British Museum to develop the British Museum Archaeological Research Collection (BM_ARC), a new facility for research and storage of artefacts in Shinfield. Being Human 2021 runs from 11-20 November. A full list of events can be found at beinghumanfestival.org/festival-events