The Egyptian Museum of Turin

The Museo Egizio or Eyptian Museum of Turin is the world’s oldest Egyptian museum; founded in 1824, it ranks second only to Cairo. Dedicated exclusively to ancient Egyptian culture and art, the museum's collection has been the subject of interest for some of history’s most important scholars, for instance Jean-François Champollion, decipherer of the Rosetta Stone. To such is attributed the fact that Turin is considered to be the city where Egyptology began. 

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is composed of objects obtained throughout the centuries, as well as in the Italian Archaeological Mission’s excavation sites between 1900 and 1935.

Collecting Egyptian antiques was all the rage in the 19th Century: in 1824, King Charles Felix of Sardinia united the collection of Paduan Egyptologist, Vitaliano Donati, to the finds owned by the House of Savoy - thus inaugurating the first Egyptian Museum in the world. Just a few years before that, and consequent to the Napoleonic Campaigns in Egypt, Bernardino Drovetti (Piedmontese that served as Consul General of France during the Egyptian occupation), collected 8,000 items: sarcophagi, mummies, papyri, jewels and statues. Then, the Museum’s first director, Ernesto Schiaparelli, led archaeologists in new excavations in Egypt, resulting in the discovery of 30,000 more pieces (artistic, and domestic quotidian tools) to add to its collection.

Today the Museum is expanding even further. Mummies and sacred animals have always been on display, but ornaments and furnishings are highlighted to capture – with great precision – the life of both people and Pharaoh. Museum curators and personnel are leaving no stone unturned in making sure Jean-François Champollion’s quip, that "the road to Memphis and Thebes passes through Turin," holds true.

Among the most significant of vestiges found are the intact tomb of Kha and Merit, along with the rupestrian temple of Ellesija. However, perhaps the most important from an historical perspective is the Turin Royal Canon or Turin King List, one of the most informative sources of Egyptian royal succession. In Hieratic scripts, it contains the names of the 15th Dynasty kings and their years of reign. Also highly astounding are the statues of the gods Isis and Sekhmet, and the statue of Ramses II, found by Vitaliano Donati in the Temple of Mut in Karnak.

Find Out More:

You may be interested in: