Robert Hay’s collection of drawings, notes and journals has been described by Egyptologists and historians as ‘of the highest importance,’ ‘must be seen to be appreciated,’ and ‘the most substantial product of a great age of copying.’ Yet, his work remains largely unpublished, the majority of his collection of antiquities under-studied and not on display.
Hay visited every major site in Egypt that was known in the 19th century as well as many in Northern Sudan, copying thousands of inscriptions, making detailed drawings of Egyptian art and taking views of villages and monuments. Consisting of over 7000 individual folios, the range of material in the Hay archive is enormous.

Join Gemma Renshaw for an introduction to Hay and his life and a short exploration of his work.

Image: British Library Add Ms 29846 f.20, possibly Robert Hay and Joseph Bonomi in the tomb of Ramesses IV, painting by Frances Arundale


Gemma Renshaw has a BA and MA in Egyptology and is currently working towards a PhD in archaeology under the supervision of Professor Stephanie Moser at Southampton University. She is a museum professional, working in the sector since 2007, and is currently Collections Manager for Care and Teaching Facilitation at UCL Culture. This includes collections held at UCL Art Museum, the Grant Museum of Zoology and of course, the Petrie Museum. Her PhD research focuses on Robert Hay’s expedition archive and the impact of his work on the developing discipline of Egyptology. Other interests include Third Intermediate Period coffins, the William Henry Fox Talbot collection at the British Library and reception of ancient Egypt in museum collections, art and video games.

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