the key launch-pad regions of modern southern Africa. Food, wagons, supplies, technology, skills and ideas enabled and accompanied the treks, campaigns and trading that sealed Cape Town’s connection with the wider region, and the region’s connections with the world.
Inseparable from this process was the elaboration of social and political arrangements, from slavery to apartheid, and these emerge in the museum collections too. One of the more unlikely consequences of the convergence of cultural and political forces is a unique collection of Egyptian antiquities at the Wellington Museum. It came into possession of the erstwhile Huguenot University College at Wellington in 1948 through the bequest of Miss E Armstead of England to her friend Miss S Stafford, who was principal of the college in the 1930s.
Armstead was an authority on ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian history, and had participated in various expeditions and diggings in these regions.
A result of a trans-Atlantic friendship with Wellington’s Stafford is the museum’s collection, which includes a clay pot from the time of Abraham (2000-1900BC) and a small receptacle from which water was drunk, dating to about 5500BC. Most of the pieces date from the reign of King Akhenaten, about 1375BC. The collection includes bronzes of Osiris, the god of resurrection, and sacred Ushabi figures.