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Melanie Pitkin

Senior Curator, Nicholson collection
BAncHist (Hons), MQ, MMusStud (Merit), Syd., PhD MQ.
Melanie Pitkin

Melanie Pitkin is Senior Curator of the Nicholson collection of antiquities at the Chau Chak Wing Museum. She has more than 15 years of experience working in museums in Australia and the UK, and providing support to colleagues at museums in Egypt.

Melanie holds a PhD in Egyptology from Macquarie University, a Masters in Museum Studies from the University of Sydney, and an honours degree in ancient history, also from Macquarie University.

Prior to joining the Museum in February 2022, Melanie worked as a Research Associate (Egyptian Antiquities) at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, playing a key role in the Museum’s cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research into its ancient Egyptian coffins. Prior to this she worked for more than a decade at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney. 

  • Egypt in the First Intermediate Period
  • Egyptian funerary stelae
  • Egyptian coffins 
  • Funerary archaeology
  • Re-used, re-cycled and modified objects from ancient Egypt
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Community outreach 
  • Museum curatorial practice 
  • The display, interpretation, treatment and care of human remains at the CCWM
  • Re-use, re-cycling and ownership in ancient Egypt (with the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge)
  • Fitzwilliam Egyptian coffins project (with the University of Cambridge) 

Melanie has supervised several student internships for the University of Sydney’s Museum and Heritage Studies programme. 

  • Affiliated Researcher, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
  • Honorary Associate, Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney
  • Board Member, Comité international pour l’égyptologie (CIPEG)
  • Editorial board, CIPEG journal
  • Member, Egypt Exploration Society
  • Member, International Association of Egyptologists
  • Member, ICOM Australia

2022

  • Macquarie University CACHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow - $5000

2021

  • Career Support Fund, University of Cambridge - £7400

2020

  • Global Challenges Research Fund (Travel and Networking Fund – with Helen Strudwick, Julie Dawson, Lucy Wrapson and Daniel Pett) - £69,347

2019

  • University of Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor’s Research Impact and Engagement Award (Collaboration Category – with Helen Strudwick and Julie Dawson) - £1000
  • AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship - £50,389.50

2018

  • Global Challenges Research Fund (Travel and Networking Fund – with Helen Strudwick and Julie Dawson) - £42,149
  • Arts and Humanities Impact Fund, University of Cambridge (with Helen Strudwick and Julie Dawson) - £9998
  • Cambridge Humanities Research Grant (with Helen Strudwick) - £15,341
  • Marlay Research Travel Grant, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge - £680

2016

  • Egypt Exploration Society Cairo Fellow - £5000

2015

  • Michelle McLean Egyptology Travelling Scholarship - $1500

2014

  • Macquarie University Postgraduate Research Grant - $2000

2009-2011

  • Macquarie University Ancient History Research Grants - $5000
  • Project Member, developing plans for the re-display of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Egyptian galleries as part of the Museum’s Masterplan and 2022 celebrations of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and bicentenary of the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone.
  • Lead Curator, Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives developed in collaboration with the British Museum, shown at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, Australia (8 December 2016 – 17 April 2017).
  • Lead Curator, Pacific content for A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity shown at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney (September 2014 – May 2016).
  • Lead curator, Recollect: Shoes a survey of historical and contemporary footwear shown at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (November 2014 – July 2015).
  • Assistant Curator, Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced shown at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney (2 September 2015 – 30 August 2016).
  • Assistant Curator, Faith, fashion, fusion: Muslim women’s style in Australia at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney (2012-2013) and travelled nationally and internationally (2014-2017).

Books

  • Pitkin, Melanie, Egypt in the First Intermediate Period: An historical and chronological examination of its false doors and stelae, Golden House Publishing (Middle Kingdom Series) (forthcoming).

Edited books

  • Pitkin, Melanie, Strong, Meghan & Woods, Alexandra., The Overseer of Works in Memphis and Thebes. Studies in Honour of Nigel Strudwick, Abercromby Press (Liverpool, forthcoming).

Book chapters

  • Pett, Daniel, Cooper, Catriona, Glen, Abigail, Pitkin, Melanie & Wexler, Jennifer, “Fad Touch: The value of creative industry collaboration in 3D printing and associated technologies for public engagement” in Cheng, E, Chapman, H, Gaffney, V & Wilson, A (eds.)., Visual Heritage: Digital Reproduction and Contextualization in Heritage Science (Springer Series on Cultural Computing), 2021, ISBN 978-3-030-77028-0): 431-448. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77028-0

Peer-reviewed articles

  • Pitkin, Melanie, Emmett, Trevor. F & Strudwick, H., “Modified and damaged stone stelae from the First Intermediate Period: some preliminary thoughts on their identification and significance” in Pillon, A (ed.)., Chronologies and Contexts of the First Intermediate Period (Le Bulletin de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, under review).
  • Pitkin, Melanie, Strudwick, Helen, Dawson, Julie & Hany Abed, Sara, “Engaging audiences in areas of low cultural provision: the concept of the ‘Pop-Up’ museum experience”, CIPEG Journal (Issue no. 4, 2020) https://doi.org/10.11588/cipeg.2020.4.83936
  • Pitkin, Melanie, Strudwick, Helen, Ravioli, Flavia, Emmett, Trevor. F & Beesley, Matthew., “Re-examining the false door of Hemi-Ra from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge” in Pitkin, Melanie, Strong, Meghan & Woods, Alexandra., The Overseer of Works in Memphis and Thebes. Studies in Honour of Nigel Strudwick, Abercromby Press (Liverpool, forthcoming).
  • Pitkin, Melanie, ‘Wedjat-eyes as a dating criterion for false doors and stelae to the early Middle Kingdom’ in Proceedings of the XIth International Congress for Egyptologists, Florence, Italy 23- 30 August 2015 (Oxford, 2017): 499-506.
  • Pitkin, Melanie, “The distribution and dating of Egyptian false doors and funerary stelae of the First Intermediate Period” in Proceedings of the XVth Current Research in Egyptology (CRE) conference in London, England, April 9-12, 2014 (Oxford, 2015): 261-277.
  • Pitkin, Melanie, “Invisible History: The First Intermediate Period in UK Museums” in Knoblauch, C & Gill, J (eds.)., Egyptology in Australia and New Zealand 2009: Proceedings of the Conference Held in Melbourne September 4-6, 2009 (BAR series, 2012): 125-133.

Online resources

  • Fitzwilliam Museum Egyptian Coffins Research Project (online resource – developed in collaboration with the project team), https://www.egyptiancoffins.org (launched December 2018).
  • “The door jamb of Minnefer from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge” (with Helen Strudwick), 8th Old Kingdom Art and Archaeology Conference, University of Jaén, Spain, 25th June 2022.
  • “How to Make an Egyptian False Door” (with Helen Strudwick, Trevor F. Emmett, Andrew Tanser, Martin Odler, Jiri Kmosek and Geoffrey Killen), 6th Australasian Egyptology Conference, Macquarie University, 10th June 2022.
  • “Approaching the afterlife: Egyptian funerary culture and new technology”, Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney, 17th March 2022.
  • “New interdisciplinary approaches to the materiality of First Intermediate Period false doors and stelae” (with Trevor F. Emmett), McDonald Institute for Archaeology (Egyptology Seminar Series), University of Cambridge, 24th November 2021.
  • “Reuse, recycling and ownership in ancient Egypt: current research at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge”, University of Liverpool Egyptology Seminar Series, 1st July 2021.
  • “New interdisciplinary approaches to the materiality of First Intermediate Period false doors and stelae”, presented at Chronologies and Contexts of the First Intermediate Period international symposium, IFAO Cairo, 7th-10th April, 2021.
  • “The Fitzwilliam Museum’s ‘Pop-Up’ Egyptian Coffins Project’ – Meaningful outreach on a shoestring budget”, presented to students in the AHI Heritage Interpretation training course (UK), Zoom meeting, 10th February 2021.
  • “Seeing the Unseen: Current research into ancient Egyptian funerary culture at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge”, presented to the Fen Edge Archaeology Group, Cottenham, UK, 28th November, 2019.
  • “Engaging audiences in areas of low cultural provision: The concept of the ‘Pop-Up’ Museum experience”, 2019 ICOM-CIPEG meeting in Kyoto, Japan, 6th September, 2019.
  • “Alterations and appropriations: an examination of some curiously modified false doors and funerary stelae from Egypt’s First Intermediate Period”, invited to present at the University of Pisa, Italy, 2nd May, 2019.
  • “The Third Intermediate Period and Late Period coffins of Nespawershefyt and Pakepu at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge”, presented at the Egypt Exploration Society Cairo Office, British Council, Agouza, Egypt, 11th October 2018.
  • “Ancient Egyptian coffins at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: a new online resource”, presented at the ICOM-CIPEG annual meeting in Swansea, Wales, 4-7 September, 2018.
  • “Re-examining the false door of Hemi-Ra from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge”, presented at the Fourth British Egyptology Congress, Manchester, UK, 7-9 September, 2018.
  • “Dance in ancient Egypt”, invited by His Excellency Mr Mohamed Khairat, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Canberra, Australia to deliver this lecture at The National Hellenic Club, Canberra for more than 400 people at an event celebrating the Reda Dance Troupe, 10 October, 2017.
  • “Curating ancient Egypt in an applied arts and sciences museum”, presented at the ICOM-CIPEG annual meeting in Chicago, United States, 5-7 September, 2017.
  • “Stelae of the Upper Egyptian bowmen in the First Intermediate Period”, presented at the ‘Beyond Memphis. The Transition of the Late Old Kingdom to the First Intermediate Period as reflected in Provincial Cemeteries’ conference, University of Würzburg, Germany, 31st August – 2nd September, 2017.
  • Wedjat-eyes as a dating criterion on false doors and stelae to the early Middle Kingdom”, presented at the XIth International Congress of Egyptologists, Florence, 23-30 August, 2015.
  • “The distribution and dating of Egyptian false doors and funerary stelae of the First Intermediate Period (reigns of Pepy II – Mentuhotep II): a preliminary analysis”, presented at Current Research in Egyptology – CRE XV, London, England, 9-12 April, 2014.
  • “A new look on the First Intermediate Period through the dating of false doors and stelae”, presented at the ARCE Annual Meeting, Portland, United States, 4-6 April, 2014.
  • “Invisible history: the First Intermediate Period in UK Museum Exhibitions”, presented at the First Australasian Conference of Young Egyptologists, Monash University, Melbourne, 4-6 September, 2009.
  • Archaeologist, South and North Tombs Cemeteries, Tell el-Amarna, Egypt under the Direction of Dr Anna Stevens (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018 seasons).
  • Member, Amarna small finds digitisation project under the Direction of Dr Anna Stevens and Professor Barry Kemp (2012 and 2013 seasons).
  • Epigrapher, Teti Pyramid Complex (tombs of Mereruka and Inumin), Saqqara, Egypt under the Direction of Professor Naguib Kanawati (2005 season).