A 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue has sold for £15.76m at Christie’s of London. The Sekhemka limestone statue, which had been expected to raise about £6m, was auctioned by Northampton Borough Council to help fund a £14m extension to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. The Egyptian ambassador to Britain said the council should have handed the statue back if it did not want it, BBC News reports. Before the sale, His Excellency Ahsraf Elkholy, the Egyptian Ambassador, condemned the sale as an “an abuse to the Egyptian archaeology and the cultural property”.
War documents to go online for first time
Finding relatives who served and were killed in the First World War will be easier than ever before, thanks to the digitisation of thousands of original war documents. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has uploaded to its website 300,000 historical military records relating to those who died in service. The documents, which have taken the CWGC five years to scan, include details of personal headstone inscriptions; rank, regiment, and date of death. Some even show the journey of the deceased to their final resting place.
Victorian jokes given modern twist
Popular 19th-century jokes are to be brought back to life thanks to a pioneering Victorian meme machine. A team led by Dr Bob Nicholson from Edge Hill University is creating a new extensive database of Victorian jokes, which will analyse gags and semi-automatically pair them with an appropriate image (or series of images) drawn from the British Library’s digital collections and other archives. Historians, researchers and members of the public alike will be able to re-generate the pairings until they discover a good match (or a humorously bizarre one), to create their own meme that can then be shared on social media.
Van Dyck painting fails to sell at auction
A painting revealed to be a Van Dyck portrait on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow has failed to sell at auction. The Old Master painting, which was bought by a Derbyshire priest from an antiques shop in Cheshire for £400 in 1992, had been expected to fetch up to £500,000 at the Christie’s sale. It was identified as a Van Dyck after Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce spotted it during filming and thought it might be genuine, BBC News reports.
Revealed: earliest surviving sea clock
The earliest surviving clock designed for finding longitude at sea is to go on public display for the first time at the National Maritime Museum. The Oosterwijck sea clock, which was commissioned by Scottish nobleman Alexander Bruce in collaboration with Dutch astronomer and mathematician Christiaan Huygens in 1662, will be displayed in a major new exhibition, Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude. The exhibition, which opens today, marks the tercentenary of the Longitude Act of 1714.