John H. Taylor

Assistant Keeper
Ancient Egypt; funerary archaeology

Department: Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan 


+44 (0)20 7323 8311

John Taylor is a curator in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, responsible for the collections of mummies, funerary objects, amulets and jewellery.

He received his PhD in Egyptology from the University of Birmingham in 1985, and joined the staff of the British Museum in 1988. His main area of expertise is the funerary archaeology of pharaonic Egypt, with particular focus on coffins of the New Kingdom, Third Intermediate Period and Late Period. Within this field he conducts research into the dating and evolution of coffins and focuses on palaeographic and stylistic evidence to better understand the working environments in which coffins were produced. He has also been closely involved with the non-invasive study of mummies using CT scanning and 3D visualisation techniques. Wider research interests include the history and prosopography of the Third Intermediate Period, metal statuary and its manufacture, and the early history of the British Museum’s Egyptian collection.

In addition to research on the collection, John Taylor is working on studies of coffins in the Castle Museum, Norwich, and is a member of the University of Cambridge Theban Tombs Project, engaged on the publication of finds from the tomb of Senneferi (TT99).

Current projects

  • Catalogue of coffins and cartonnage cases of the 22nd-23rd Dynasties in the British Museum.

  • Editing (with Marie Vandenbeusch) a multi-authored volume Ancient Egyptian Coffins: craft traditions and functionality, the proceedings of an international colloquium held at the British Museum in 2014. To be published by Peeters (Leuven) in 2018.

  • Contribution to multi-authored publication of large bronze statues of the Third Intermediate Period.

  • Participation in study of organic residues on coffins, cartonnage cases and mummies, in collaboration with Margaret Serpico and others.

Previous projects

  • Exhibition, Ancient Lives, new discoveries.
  • Exhibition, Journey through the afterlife. Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.
  • Exhibition, Mummy, the Inside Story.
  • Exhibition, Howard Carter. Before Tutankhamun.
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler gallery of Egypt and Africa (Gallery 65)
  • Roxie Walker galleries of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology (Galleries 62-63)

Recent publications

J. H. Taylor, ‘Two lost cartonnage cases of the early Twenty-second Dynasty’, in C. Jurman, B. Bader and D. A. Aston (eds), A True Scribe of Abydos. Essays on First Millennium Egypt in honour of Anthony Leahy. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 265 (Leuven, Paris, Bristol CT, 2017), 445-489.

J. H. Taylor, Sir John Soane’s Greatest Treasure. The Sarcophagus of Seti I (with an article by Helen Dorey) (London 2017).

J. H. Taylor, ‘The coffins from Debeira: regional interpretations of New Kingdom funerary iconography’, in N Spencer, A Stevens and M Binder, Nubia in the New Kingdom. Lived experience, pharaonic control and indigenous traditions. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 3 (Leuven, Paris and Bristol, CT, 2017), 537-56.

J. H. Taylor, ‘The vulture headdress and other indications of gender on women’s coffins in the 1st millennium BC’, in A Amenta and H Guichard (eds), Proceedings First Vatican Coffin Conference 19-22 June 2013 (Vatican 2017), II, 541-50.

J. H. Taylor, ‘The coffins from Shaft I’ in N. Strudwick (ed.), The Tomb of Pharaoh’s Chancellor Senneferi at Thebes (TT 99), I. The New Kingdom (Oxford and Philadelphia 2016), 181-190.

J. H. Taylor, ‘The Amduat papyrus of Panebmontu’, British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 23 (2016), 135-151.

J. H. Taylor, ‘An unusual funerary figurine of the early 18th Dynasty’ in C. Price, R. Forshaw, A. Chamberlain and P. Nicholson (eds), Mummies, Magic and Medicine in Ancient Egypt. Multidisciplinary essays for Rosalie David (Manchester 2016), 210-225, pl. 7.

J. H. Taylor, ‘Coffins from the New Kingdom to the Roman Period’ in J Dawson and H Strudwick (eds), Death on the Nile. Uncovering the Afterlife of Ancient Egypt (London 2016), 48-73.

Taylor, J. H. 2016. ‘The Egyptian Concept of a Royal Necropolis’, in R H Wilkinson and K R Weeks (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Valley of the Kings. (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016) 41-53

Taylor, J. H. ‘Intrusive Burials and Caches’, in R H Wilkinson and K R Weeks (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Valley of the Kings. (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 20165), 360-372

Cartwright, C. and Taylor, J. H.  ‘Ancient Egyptian funerary food: new insights’, The British Museum Technical Research Bulletin 9, (2015) 97-105

Craddock, P., McArthur, G. and Taylor, J. H. ‘The conservation and technical investigation of a hollow-cast Egyptian bronze’, The British Museum Technical Research Bulletin 9, (2015) 111-120

Taylor, J. H. New studies on an important group of bronze statues. The British Museum Newsletter, Egypt and Sudan 1 (2014), 13

Taylor, J. H. The Collection of Egyptian Mummies in the British Museum: Overview and Potential for Study. In Regarding the Dead: Human Remains in the British Museum, eds A. Fletcher, D. Antoine and J. D. Hill, Research Publication 197: 103–114. (London: British Museum Press, 2014)

Taylor, J. H. Unravelling the secrets of Egyptian mummies. British Museum Magazine 78 (2014), 28–31

Taylor, J. H. Preliminary Notes on Coffin Fragments discovered in TT 223. In Tombs of the South Asasif Necropolis. Thebes, Karakhamun (TT 223), and Karabasken (TT 391) in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, ed. E. Pischikova, 239–245. (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2014)

Taylor, J. H., Antoine, D. and Vandenbeusch, M. Ancient Lives, new discoveries. Eight mummies, eight stories. (London: British Museum Press, May 2014)

Taylor, J. H. and Antoine, D. Ancient Lives exhibition: the process of discovery. The British Museum Newsletter, Egypt and Sudan 1 (2014), 5

Taylor, J. H. and Antoine, D. ‘Ancient Lives, new discoveries’, Minerva 25/4 (July/August 2014), 22-26

Taylor, J. H. Preliminary Notes on Coffin Fragments discovered in TT 223, in Elena Pischikova (ed.), Tombs of the South Asasif Necropolis. Thebes, Karakhamun (TT 223), and Karabasken (TT 391) in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (Cairo and New York 2014), 239-45

Taylor, J. H. New Radiocarbon Dates for the 21st Dynasty. In A J Shortland and C Bronk Ramsey (eds), Radiocarbon and the Chronologies of Ancient Egypt (Oxbow Books, Oxford and Oakville, 2013), 167-73

Taylor, J. H. Secrets of the Afterlife: Magic, Mummies & Immortality in Ancient Egypt (Western Australian Museum, Perth, 2013)

Taylor, J. H. Masks in Ancient Egypt: The image of divinity, in John Mack (ed), Masks. The Art of Expression, revised edition. (London, British Museum, 2013) 168-189

Taylor, J. H. John Madox: A Diligent Traveller and his Scattered Legacy, in Diane Fortenberry (ed.), Souvenirs and New Ideas. Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East. (Oxford and Oakville, ASTENE and Oxbow Books, 2013) 179-191

Taylor, J. H.  Mummy: Secrets of the tomb. (Queensland Museum, South Brisbane, 2012)

Taylor, J.H. (ed). Journey through the Afterlife. Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. (British Museum Press, 2012)

Taylor, J H (ed), Journey through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. (British Museum Company, London, and Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2010)

Taylor, J H Spells for Eternity. (British Museum Company, London, 2010)

Taylor, J H Egyptian Mummies. British Museum Company, (London, and University of Texas Press, Austin, 2010)

J. H. Taylor, Mummy: the Inside Story (Tokyo, The Asahi Shimbun, 2006)

J. H. Taylor, ‘The Coffin of Padiashaikhet’, in K N Sowada and B G Ockinga (ed.), Egyptian Art in the Nicholson Museum, Sydney (Sydney, Meditarch, 2006), 263-291, pls. 46-54, 63-64

J. H. Taylor, Mummies. Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. Treasures from the British Museum, with N C Strudwick (Santa Ana, The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, 2005)

J. H. Taylor, ‘Egypt. Earlier period’, in S I Johnston (ed.), Religions of the Ancient World. A Guide (Cambridge, Mass., London: Belknap, 2005), pp. 471-5

J. H. Taylor, ‘Scarabs from the Bronze Age tombs at Sidon (Lebanon)’, Levant, 36 (2004), pp. 155-158