Discovering The Secrets Of Ancient Egypt In London

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It may not immediately seem like these two places are at all related- especially as they are separated by over 2,000 miles and 2,000 years!

However, London has a few moments in its history that mean it is intrinsically linked with the ancient civilisation- and it is something that fascinates us Brits to this very day.

After Lord Nelson’s victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile in 1798, a gift was given to England by Egypt’s leader (more on this soon) which sparked an obsession with Ancient Egypt that lasted for hundreds of years, and led to many English archaeologists leading expeditions to uncover the secrets of Ancient Egypt.

Howard Carter and his team discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 and Egypt fever was renewed, but stronger than ever!

Fast forward to 2023 and London still has an obsession with the ancient culture that is displayed all over the city. Many buildings were built with sphinxes affixed to them, Egyptian style columns were used in graveyards and even the One Canada Square skyscraper is capped with a pyramid!  

London is home to the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts outside of Egypt itself, and is a great place to learn as much as possible about the ages old civilization without actually visiting.

If you’re in town for a layover, a weekend or a full week, consider booking a room at the Park Grand Hotel Heathrow; it gives you the convenience of being a few minutes from Heathrow, and also of being within easy reach of the city centre. It’s one of the finest hotels in Hounslow West, so book now and make the most of its amazing location.

Now let’s take a look at the London locations where you can best discover the ancient Egyptians and their incredible secrets.

The British Museum

The British museum is home to the largest and most comprehensive collections in the world. It tells the story of the entirety of the human race- from its very inception to the present day.

It should come as no surprise that it is home to the best ancient Egyptian collections outside of Egypt, and houses some of the world’s most valued and important objects from civilizations long since lost.

The most famous artefact in the building is the Rosetta Stone which essentially acted as key to the ancient texts written in Hieroglyphs. We were able to translate the language and gain gigantic insight into the lives and stories of Egyptians, thanks to this incredible carving.

You will also find the ever popular ‘mummy gallery’, or the Death and Afterlife gallery, where a collection of mummies recovered from Egypt are displayed in all their glory.

Some are so well preserved thanks to the ancient techniques that they still have hair and teeth!  

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

William Matthew Flinders Petrie was an archaeologist that worked on many of the most important digs in Egypts history. He sold his private collection to the University College and in doing so created one of the best collections of ancient artefacts, aside from the British Museum, in the world. 

There are some truly incredible pieces in the collection, including the first and oldest cloth recovered from around 5,000 BCE.

It’s an excellent place to learn about the fascinating history of civilization, and you’ll be able to avoid the crowds seen at the British Museum.

It’s free to enter, and truly a staggering collection.

Horniman Museum & Gardens

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is yet another world class collection, although this time it’s a little smaller.

The museum’s focus is on the history of anthropology and natural history so of course the section featuring ancient Egypt is incredible.

The stone carvings and sculptures are truly stunning- and in great condition.

You’ll also find mummified animals such as cats and birds, jewellery and sarcophagi.

It’s a stunning collection that is worth a visit.   

Cleopatra’s Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle is one of the oldest man made objects on the streets of the city.

It was gifted to Britain after their victory at the Battle of the Nile by Egypt’s president, and erected on the Thames Embankment in 1877, 79 years later- a delay caused by shipping costs!

It may surprise you to find out that this stunning obelisk first stood in the ancient city Heliopolis in the year 1450 BCE. It now stands proudly on the banks of the Thames some 3500 years later.

The staggering history of this object is enough to remind us of our past, and the unforgiving marches of time. It is one of the most stunning artefacts in the world, and to see it standing proudly in London is a pretty special experience. 

Sotheby’s

This one may come as something of a surprise to many people.

Above the door to the famous auction house on New Bond Street is a small, black bust of the Egyptian lioness warrior goddess Sekhmet. You would be forgiven for thinking that this is a simple recreation or copy- but you would be incorrect.

This is an original bust taken from Egypt some time in the 1800s. The story of how it came to be placed there is a strange one. It was up for auction and sold for £43 to persons unknown, who never came to collect it. The auctioneers kept the bust and it became something of a mascot.

It is thought to be from 1320 BCE and is valued at a little over £3.5 million pounds.

Ancient History in London

So there you have it, all the best locations in the city to get up close and personal with the ancient Egyptians.

There is a staggering amount to see thanks to the British Museum’s gigantic collection and the smaller museums that host some fascinating relics- the only place better is Cairo!

Make the most of your stay in one of the best hotels near Heathrow Airport; the Park Grand. It’s home to the best afternoon tea Heathrow hotels offer, and will place you in the perfect location to enjoy the city and catch a flight with absolute ease.