Eton Collection

An agreement was signed between Johns Hopkins University, Eton College, and the University of Birmingham, UK that has brought nearly 2000 ancient Egyptian objects from the Eton College Myers Collection to the Archaeological Museum for a fifteen-year period. Read the press release about the arrival of the Eton Collection here. In concert with the University of Birmingham, Johns Hopkins’ faculty and students will catalogue and study these artifacts as part of the curriculum in in a variety of departments. Several hundred will be displayed in the Museum’s cases and many more in our display/study drawers within the Museum proper.

A painted plaster head from a sarcophagus, 2nd century CE.

The website for Eton College introduces the Myers Collection as follows: “Eton possesses one of the world’s finest private collections of Egyptian Art. The collection was bequeathed in 1899 by Major William Joseph Myers, who was educated at Eton between 1871 and 1875. Myers first went to Egypt in 1882 as Aide-de-Camp to the General commanding in Cairo. An incorrigible collector with a fine eye, the young soldier soon discovered the delights of Egyptian art: it was a passion that came to dominate his life.

Myers returned to Eton in 1899 as Adjutant to the Eton boys’. Soon, however, he enrolled again in his old regiment to fight in South Africa. On 30th October 1899, at the battle of Ladysmith, Myers was shot through the head by a Boer sniper’s bullet and killed outright. He bequeathed his collection to Eton.”

Myers was particularly interested in smaller colorful glazed works often made of the medium called faience (although having nothing to do with the French glazed earthenware for which it is named) that was used for vessels, jewelry, and inlays. He was also attracted to finely crafted bronze items and the human face in all media. He collected plaster heads from Egyptian Roman-era coffins, molded and painted with great vitality. The overall collection is representative of a broad range of ancient Egyptian objects spanning the neolithic (ca. 4000 B.C.) to medieval (ca. 1000 A.D.) eras. The distinctive quality of Myers’ collection has been recognized in exhibitions at major museum world wide, including those in New York, Madrid, Leiden, Hildesheim, Bordeaux, and Japan.

Nearly 200 objects from the Eton Collection are currently on view on the north wall of cases in the museum.