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A British Museum Touring Exhibition

Egyptian hieroglyphs: unlock the mystery

Poster for Egyptian Hieroglyphs, unlock the mystery at the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum
Unlock the mystery of ancient Egypt and explore the incredible story of the international race to decipher hieroglyphs!
Following a blockbuster show at the British Museum, we are proud to host a new touring exhibition telling the story of the Rosetta Stone, the decipherment of hieroglyphs and the unlocking of the secrets of the ancient Egyptians.
Join us on a journey to unearth the central role hieroglyphs played in the life and afterlife of the Egyptians.
Explore this free family-friendly display featuring ancient interactives and Egyptian objects, on display for the first time in Northern Ireland.
You can also learn about Lisburn’s connection to the tomb of Tutankhamun and links to fine Egyptian linen in our gallery tours. And, our Egyptian-themed workshops explore life in Ancient Egypt and the curious connection between decipherment, code-breaking and weaving!
Get in touch for more information about our dedicated schools’ programme.
Free Entry
28 June – 12 October 2023
Monday to Saturday 9.30am-5pm


Dr Ilona Regulski, Curator at the British Museum - Lisburn Museum
Dr Ilona Regulski, Curator at the British Museum

Talk: ‘Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt’ with Dr Ilona Regulski, Curator of Egyptian Written Culture at the British Museum


29 June 2023, 7pm

In trying to reconstruct the history of writing, we often turn to sources from ancient Egypt. Every aspect of ancient Egyptian culture, its religious practice, monumental buildings, and bureaucratic minutiae, relied on a system of writing developed around 3250 BCE. The spoken language was used until the 15th century CE, making it one of history’s longest-surviving recorded languages. But following the conquest of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, the ancient scripts slowly fell out of use in Egypt and a new alphabet to record the spoken language became more widespread. Roman and Greek authors, who could not read hieroglyphs, believed them to be symbolic rather than linked to the sound of spoken language, a belief that went unquestioned and effectively obstructed access Egypt’s written sources for centuries. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 and its subsequent decipherment provided the decisive key to unlocking the meaning of the mysterious characters.

The talk will chart the race to decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs and explore the inscribed objects that helped scholars unlock one of the world’s oldest civilisations. The Rosetta Stone will be discussed alongside some of its ancient copies and the very inscriptions scholars studied in their quest to understand ancient Egypt. The talk will illustrate how an increased understanding of these written sources has unlocked one of the world’s oldest civilisations and helped us to understand how the ancients viewed and experienced the world.

Tickets can be booked in person via Museum Reception, or by telephoning 02892663377.

Dr Ken Griffin, Curator of The Egypt Centre, Swansea.

Talk: ‘Egypt: Land of the Gods, Pharaohs, and Wonderful Thingswith Dr Ken Griffin,  Curator at the The Egypt Centre, Swansea

15 September 2023, 7pm

Ancient Egypt is one of the most fascinating and mysterious civilizations in history. Its rich culture has captured the imagination of people for centuries. This talk will explore the many wonders of ancient Egypt, from its towering pyramids and temples to pharaohs and its complex pantheon of gods. We will begin by discussing the geography of ancient Egypt and how its location on the Nile River shaped its culture and history. This will be followed by the role of the pharaohs, such as Ramesses the Great and the “boy king” Tutankhamun. We will briefly explore the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, with their many gods and goddesses. Finally, we will look at some of the most famous archaeological sites in Egypt, including the pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings, and the Temple of Karnak. This talk is sure to leave you with a deeper understanding of this ancient civilization and its lasting impact on the world!

During the unwrapping of the mummified remains of Takabuti in 1835, hieroglyphs were publicly read for the first time in Belfast.

Talk: ‘The Life and Times of Takabuti in Ancient Egypt and in Belfast’ with Prof Eileen Murphy, Queen’s University Belfast

29 September 2023, 7pm


Within Northern Ireland Takabuti needs no introduction. Since her arrival in Belfast in 1834, the mummified remains of this young, upper-class Egyptian woman from the tumultuous 25th Dynasty, around 600 BC, has instilled a fascination with the incredible culture of ancient Egypt. The talk will provide an overview of the research that was undertaken on Takabuti when she was initially unwrapped in 1835. It will also bring her story up to date and outline how the combination of archaeological, inscriptional and historical evidence with multidisciplinary scientific techniques has provided huge insights about the nature of her life, the cause of her death and how she was mummified and prepared for burial.

Exhibition Highlight:

Limestone lintel of Ramses III
Image: Limestone lintel of Ramesses III © 2023 The Trustees of the British Museum

Drop-in activities and self-directed gallery trail:

Irish Linen Centre Education Programme
Browse our full Education Programme. Click the link above.

In conjunction with the exhibition, we are launching our summer programme! Our workshops are Egyptian-themed and explore the cultural significance of colour, Egyptian symbols and design.  Participants can be further inspired through our range of workshops, talks and programmes.  A full programme, including guidance for schools and groups, can be found in our downloadable PDF or via our dedicated schools and groups page.

For detailed programme information please contact Emma or Philip.  For groups  bookings email or call: 02892663377

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Schools and Groups

Groups can enjoy the exhibition at special times, including out of hours visits. These sessions are free but booking is essential, please contact or telephone +442892663377

A full programme, including guidance for schools and groups, can be found in our downloadable PDF or via our dedicated schools and groups page.

Do I need to book?

The exhibition is free to view and tickets are not required to enter the gallery. Please note, that at busy times access to the gallery will be controlled by Museum Staff. 

How do I get to the museum? Where can I park?

Follow this link for information on our location, car parks and how to get to the museum on public transport.

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