Museo Egizio

From Academic Kids

The Museo Egizio in Turin is home to what is regarded as the second largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world (the first being the Cairo Museum).

The first nucleus of the Turin collection dates back to the year 1753, when botanist Vitaliano Donati first brought in Italy the statues (300 pieces) recovered from Karnak and Coptos. In 1824, King Carlo Felice acquired the material from the Drovetti collection (3007 pieces), that the French General Consul, Bernardino Drovetti, had built during his stay in Egypt. In the same year, Jean-François Champollion used the huge Turin collection of papyruses to test his breakthroughs in deciphering the hieroglyphic writing. The time Champollion spent in Turin studying the texts is also the origin of a legend about the mysterious disappearance of the "Papiro Regio", that was only later found and of which some portions are still unavailable. In 1950 a parapsychologist was contacted to pinpoint them, to no avail.

Incidentally, the budding collection in Turin forced other institutions around the world to improve their Egyptian wings.

In 1833 the collection of Piedmontese Giuseppe Sossio (over 1200 pieces) was added to the Egyptian Museum.

Finally, the collection was complemented and completed by the finds of Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli, during his excavation campaigns between 1900 and 1920.

Through all these years, the Egyptian collection has always been in Turin, in the building projected for the purpose of housing it, Via Accademia delle Scienze 6. Only during the Second World War was some of the material moved to the town of Aglié.

Items of interest include:

  • Assemblea dei Re (Kings Assembly) a term originally indicating a collection of statues representing all the kings of the New Kingdom.
  • Temple of Tuthmosi III
  • Sarcophagi, mummies and books of the dead originally belonging to the Drovetti collection.
  • A painting on canvas dated at about 3500 BC (found in 1931)
  • Funerary paraphernalia from the Tomba di Ignoti (Tomb of Unknown) from the Old Kingdom
  • Tomb of Kha and of Mirit, found intact by Schiaparelli and transferred in toto in the museum
  • Papyrus collection room, originally collected by Drovetti and later used by Champollion during his studies for the decoding of the hieroglyphics.
  • Mensa Isiaca (The Table of Isis)
  • Tomba Dipinta (The Painted Tomb) usually closed to the public.

The Egyptian Museum owns three different versions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, including the most ancient copy known. An integral illustrated version and the personal copy of the First Royal Architect Kha, found by Schiaparelli in 1906 are normally shown to the public. On more than one occasion the director of the Museum was asked to remove the two copies of the book on display and stock them in a deep and dark basement, always for strictly esoteric reasons (as the papyrus emanates "negative energy"). At the time of writing, none of these requests appears to have been put into practice.

Trivia

Fans of the UK cult film The Italian Job will recognise the entrance hall of the Museo Egizio as the place where the robbers tow the security van in order to transfer the bullion to the three getaway Minis.

External link

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