Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Four items were given the following accession numbers on 27 March 1997:


stela at MU



stela in Canberra






offering table


Letters between Melbourne University's Dr Colin Hope and Peter F Dorman, Assistant Curator at the MMA:

July 16, 1984. Dorman encloses photocopies of accession cards of two Egyptian stelae formerly at the Met, together with relevant page of 1898 Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities in Halls 3 and 4, by the Rev. Charles R Gillett, for 97.4.141. Stelae were 97.4.141 and 18.2.3 in the Met's accession records. Photographs, with Met numbers on the back, help sort out which stela is which. The accession cards are stamped "De-accessioned ...Feb 14, 1957"; a handwritten note on their 97.4.141 card adds "Sold - $450 - Univ of Melbourne", while a similar-looking note on the card for 18.2.3 is indecipherable (but see below). Dorman urges caution about attributing provenance.

97.4.141 was a gift to the Met from the Egypt Exploration Fund, and is associated with Petrie - but perhaps he bought them. A tag still on the stele (27 March 1997) has $450 on it.

September 4, 1984. Clarifies entry on card for 18.2.3: "Sold to the University of Melbourne (Bowman)." Discusses conservation treatment already done.

Refers also to 06.1231.40B, Kheker-frieze relief from Deir el Bahri, Naville Excavations; an attached photocopy of photo enables this to be identified as the Melbourne frieze.

Refers also to offering table from same site.

October 11, 1984. Identifies offering table as MMA 89.2.663, with copies of accession card, sketch and 1898 Catalogue. The accession card has "Sold to Univ. of Melbourne - ($150)".

13 November 1984. Colin Hope sends Frances Lindsay, Curator of the Gallery, a copy of a conservation report on stelae by Barbara Reeve.


Conservation of Stela of Reshgem (formerly 18.2.3):

22 June 1989. Acting Insurance Officer Hatters to Prof. Muraoka: "Damaged Ancient Egyptian Slab Replica... could you please arrange for a written quotation to be obtained, and forwarded onto the Insurance Office to enable the settlement of your insurance claim."

29 June 1989. Muraoka to Professor Osborne: "... (not replica) in need of conservation work. Dr Bunnens has found out that Dr Pearson can undertake such work for no cost..."

31 October 1989. Muraoka to Hatters. "Today this stela will be taken to the University's Museum of Art from where, after prepatory [sic] conservation work by Ms. R. Sloggett, it will be despatched to Dr. Colin Pearson of the Dept. of Cultural Heritage, Science Division, in Canberra for further conservation.... please insure ... The stela has been valued at $50,000.00." Photocopy of photograph enclosed.

5 February 1990. Dr C Pearson, Director, National Centre for Cultural Heritage Science Studies, School of Applied Science, University of Canberra to Ms Patricia McQueen, Ian Potter Art Conservation Centre. "Stela has arrived safely ... suffering badly from salt damage... unlikely that the treatment will be finished before the end of this year."

19 February 1990. Hope to Pearson. "I enclose two photographs, one taken by this University in 1984 and another provided by the Metropolitan Museum of Art... I also enclose a report prepared by Barbara Reeves on this stela (and another we possess) with suggestions for conservation; also information on possible conservation techniques carried out in America."

March 1997. Christine Elias (27 March 1997) said that it was being used as a teaching device in Canberra and, in a recent conversation with Canberra, she had learned that it was not fit to travel.


The four items were accessioned on 27 March 1997. The stele in OA 224 is in such poor condition that it was decided not to photograph it. Conservation is urgent. It is hoped that file photographs of the two stelae will be made available.

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