Inside the Collection

Strange things you find on a curator’s desk. Part one.

Poo in a tube

Crocodile stool in glass tube on curator's desk
Photography by Erika Taylor, Powerhouse Museum

Although working at the Powerhouse Museum as a curator is one of the best jobs around, sometimes people do actually leave their jobs and head out to explore other opportunities. When this happens, there is often an eclectic mix of things left behind on desks, hidden in cupboards, and stuffed into drawers. I am continuously finding amusing things left around my office by an ex-curator.

This week’s find is ‘poo in a tube’. Crocodile poo to be exact. Its tag tells me it was once a prop in the “Taking Precautions: the story of contraception” exhibition held at the Powerhouse 1995.
It is thought that ancient Egyptians used crocodile dung, mixed with milk or honey, internally as a physical barrier. This method is one of the earliest forms of contraception.
Most props from exhibitions get thrown away after the show, the curator at the time obviously couldn’t part with the croc poo, and I’ve grown fond of it sitting on my desk too!

2 responses to “Strange things you find on a curator’s desk. Part one.

  • Charming Erika!! On the topic of ancient Egyptian contraception, however, there are a number of other remedies mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus and the Lahun Gynaecological Papyrus including the use of acacia leaves, carob, dates and honey spread onto a strip of linen. This was actually said to prevent a woman from conceiving for up to 3 years!

  • I don’t know what to find more gross – the fact that people have poo on their desk or that people would use the stuff internally to stop getting pregnant!

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