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Colin Newton: Norwich Egyptologist praised for research

PUBLISHED: 10:30 07 March 2011

Retired Norwich television engineer Colin Newton, who has died aged 69, devoted more than 50 years to studying the history of ancient Egypt and the pharaohs.

His scholarship was outstanding, said a world authority on Egyptology, Prof Peter Der Manuelian, of Harvard University. And Mr Newton, who lived at Woodland Road, Hellesdon, has donated some of his key research papers on the Egyptian tombs of the fourth, fifth and sixth dynasties to the American university.

Colin George Newton, who was known to family as Chuck, was born in Cley, on the North Norfolk coast. He was 15 when he joined the Royal Air Force as a boy entrant.

While serving at RAF Coltishall, he met his wife, Jean, who was just 15 and came from Aylsham. His later postings included Scampton, near Lincoln, before he left the RAF after 12 years to become a self-employed television engineer.

They returned to Norwich but he had already become fascinated by the history of the ancient kingdoms. He started to research the tombs, paintings and inscriptions of Giza and Saqqara between 2613BC and 2181BC. He told the EDP in 1994: “It has fascinated me for a long time and now I’m hooked.”

Although he never visited the country, he had been a longstanding member of the Egypt Exploration Society since the early 1960s. He enjoyed access to the society’s extensive archives and library, which formed the basis for his research over many years.

His efforts were greatly appreciated by Prof Der Manuelian, professor of Egyptology. “Over the years he contributed massive amounts of information on the Old Kingdom tombs at Giza.

“Although he called himself an amateur, I was consistently impressed with his meticulous data collection, his sense of organisation, and his willingness to share the fruits of his passion and avocation,” said Prof Der Manuelian.

“I do hope to incorporate some of his work in our website, as we start to focus on the individual careers of the Egyptian tomb owners whom Colin was studying so intensively,” he added.

He even featured in the Boston Globe newspaper in 2007, which reported how Mr Newton “explores rare Giza maps and expedition diaries in an effort to catalogue all Old Kingdom tombs of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.”

Mr Newton, who also loved opera and the arts, was an atheist. A family man, he would have been married for 50 years in August.

He leaves a widow, Jean, and two children, Deborah and Paul, and three grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at St Faith’s Crematorium tomorrow at 3.30pm.

Michael Pollitt

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