The Queen’s College has a long association with Egyptology at Oxford. The Peet Library is a specialist collection of Egyptology material which is maintained and updated by Queen's College library. It was donated by Sir Alan Gardiner (1879–1963) in memory of Professor Thomas Eric Peet (1882–1934), a noted Egyptologist and a Fellow of Queen’s. The Peet Library is located in the Waverley Room, entered from the entrance lobby, and houses all the borrowable Egyptology material and four work spaces for Egyptologists, together with a display cabinet which is viewable both from within the room itself and from the entrance lobby.
In 1841, the Revd Robert Mason (1782–1841) bequeathed to Queen’s his collection of ‘Reliques of Antiquity’ which included 1500 Egyptian objects, ranging from Predynastic vessels to inscribed funerary stelae. These objects were placed in the Ashmolean Museum on long-term loan in 1949, and a selection is now on display in the cabinet. More information about the objects can be found at www.queens.ox.ac.uk/special-collections.
In 1997 an important papyrus in the cursive script known as ‘abnormal hieratic’ was rediscovered in the College library. The text is a legal narrative from around 700 BC; the papyrus was apparently acquired indirectly from the widow of the archaeologist and adventurer Giovanni Belzoni by 1830. Four of the artefacts on display were acquired in Egypt by Eric Peet and given to his niece Esmé Little, née Peet (1922–2015), when she was a child. The Little family donated them to the College on her behalf in 2014. Family tradition says that they were excavated in the 1920s, possibly at el-Amarna.