As we were heading to Europe for my presentation in January, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and arrange to see as many of the Egyptian socks as I could manage in the time allotted. Reviewing my list of the current locations there were a significant number of institutions generally situated around Manchester, UK. As neither my mother nor I had ever been to Manchester, this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Given the short time frame, I had only managed to arrange visits with the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Manchester Museum (to be discussed in later posts). However, I still wanted to see go to the others on the off chance that the socks would be on display. If not, then to at least see the exhibited collections.
We flew in on a red-eye flight. My brother kindly picked us up at the airport and drove us to the Bolton Museum.
The Bolton has fragments of the ankle portion of two Coptic socks. One is green: http://www.boltonlams.co.uk/collections/item/461?subjectId=4 the other is yellow, red, purple, and blues: http://www.boltonlams.co.uk/collections/item/460?subjectId=4
Neither were on display. Nonetheless, the Egyptian exhibit was interesting as was the rest of the museum. We particularly enjoyed the local history and natural history sections.
The next day we headed to the New Walk Museum in Leicester. I’ll be writing a more complete post about that visit separately as their sock was on display.
Then a quick dash up to Oxford to visit the Ashmolean. We had unfortunately gotten off to a late start and thus were very rushed for time when we arrived.
There was a bit of construction so we entered at the side entrance which put us directly into the Ancient Egyptian section.
In 2010, the child’s sock was on display. It was my hope that it might still be when we went this January. However, for the safety and preservation of their textiles, the Ashmolean limits the amount of time any particular object remains on display and the sock had been on display for several years.
At the time of my visit, it was up in the conservation lab and there was no time to arrange to see it. One of the few pictures available of this sock is at: http://ancientegyptiansock.blogspot.com/ This image is slightly blurry, but does give a nice representation of the colors and striping on this sock. I am hoping that as the Ashmolean puts more of its collection online, that in the next year or so it will be available via http://collections.ashmolean.org/collection/collection-online.
Another view (#2), in black and white, that I believe to be of the sock now in the Ashmolean can be seen in the image taken during the 1913-14 excavation of Antinoë for the Graeco-Roman branch of the Egypt Exploration Society that I discussed in my earlier post “Have you seen this sock: Part 2.”
I now find myself in the midst of making travel plans which, amongst other places, will actually take me back to the Ashmolean. This time with a scheduled appointment to see the child’s sock and another Coptic sock in their collection.