Collections | Rediscovering the Past | The birth of archaeology [121 Objects, 7 Monuments]

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Palette

Naquada I; acquired in 1901

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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 Justification for this item

The main body of the Egyptian archaeological collection of the “Museo Preistorico Etnografico e Kircheriano” was donated by David Randall-MacIver in 1901. They came from the excavations he carried out on the behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund in the town of el-Amra, Upper Egypt. This was followed in 1905 by material from the Italian Archaeological Mission in Egypt (excavations of Hammamiye) led by Ernesto Schiaparelli, director of the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

Palette

Naquada I; acquired in 1901

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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Reserve head

4th Dyn. c. 2600 BC; acquired by Hermann Junker during his excavation in Giza 1912–1929

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Reserve head

4th Dyn. c. 2600 BC; acquired by Hermann Junker during his excavation in Giza 1912–1929

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Funeral statue of Lady Khent and her youngest child

c. 2300 BC; acquired by Hermann Junker during his excavation in Giza 1912–1929

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Funeral statue of Lady Khent and her youngest child

c. 2300 BC; acquired by Hermann Junker during his excavation in Giza 1912–1929

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Head of a sphinx of Sesostris III

12th Dyn. Sesostris III, 1878-1843 BC; brought to Vienna in 1893

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Head of a sphinx of Sesostris III

12th Dyn. Sesostris III, 1878-1843 BC; brought to Vienna in 1893

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Disk

New Kingdom (16th–11th century BC); discovered in 1824

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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 Justification for this item

The disk in green glass with a golden square foil is considered of remarkable interest because of its label, attributed to Ippolito Rosellini, which proves that the relic was found inside a tomb in Thebes. Rosellini, one of the main figure of the Franco-Tuscan expedition in Egypt (cfr.ITEM 2) wrote on it \'Disco di vetro con entro una lamina d\'oro. Trovato in una tomba a Tebe, Egitto, da I. Rosellini 1824 -dono di Elenina Ox Sicard, dicembre 1902\'. The relic was later acquired by Enrico Hillyer Giglioli, whose collection was then acquired by the Pigorini Museum in 1913.

Disk

New Kingdom (16th–11th century BC); discovered in 1824

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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Reverent Baboon with Pharaoh figure

18th Dyn. Amenophis II, 1454-1419 BC; acquired in 1865/66

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Reverent Baboon with Pharaoh figure

18th Dyn. Amenophis II, 1454-1419 BC; acquired in 1865/66

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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The goddess Maat

19th Dynasty (14th–13th centuries BC); found in 1828–29

Egyptian Museum

Florence, Italy

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 Justification for this item

This relief fragment, from the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I, was discovered in 1817 in the Valley of the Kings. It belongs to the most important finds of the Franco-Tuscan expedition (1828–29), brought to Florence by Rosellini. Here the goddess Maat can be recognised by the feather on her head.

The goddess Maat

19th Dynasty (14th–13th centuries BC); found in 1828–29

Egyptian Museum

Florence, Italy

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‘The Younger Memnon’

19th Dynasty; donated to the British Museum in 1817

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

When Henry Salt and J. L. Burckhardt donated this colossal bust of Ramesses II to the British Museum in 1817, it created a sensation, and became known as the “Younger Memnon”. It was removed from the Ramesseum in Thebes by the explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni, who transported it to Alexandria, from where it was shipped to England.

‘The Younger Memnon’

19th Dynasty; donated to the British Museum in 1817

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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A Khorsabad barrel

721–705 BC (reign of Sargon II); discovered in 1851–1854

National Museum of Romanian History

Bucharest, Romania

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 Justification for this item

French diplomat Victor Place, who spent the last years of his life in Romania, discovered at Khorsabad (1851–54) 14 inscribed barrels like this one. All but four were lost in the Shatt el-Arab waterway in April 1855. According to a letter written by a son of Victor Place, his father had received this barrel from the French government as a reward for his archaeological activity. The text records Sargon II’s founding of a new capital at Khorsabad.

A Khorsabad barrel

721–705 BC (reign of Sargon II); discovered in 1851–1854

National Museum of Romanian History

Bucharest, Romania

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Winged colossus

7th century BC

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

One of the massive guardian figures found by Layard, which were floated down the Tigris. They weigh several tons each.

Winged colossus

7th century BC

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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The Flood Tablet

7th century BC

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

The Flood Tablet, actually the 11th tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, made international news in 1872. George Smith, cuneiform scholar at the British Museum, translated this story of a Flood that bears a very close resemblance to the biblical account. How could a story thought to have been revealed by God to his chosen people be found elsewhere, and in a text older than the Bible?

The Flood Tablet

7th century BC

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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Bellino Cylinder

7th century BC; acquisition date: 1825

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

Rich’s assistant was a talented German by the name of Karl Bellino. He accompanied Rich on his visits to the sites and greatly impressed him by his scholarship. One of the important objects discovered by Rich and Bellino was a clay cylinder with an inscription of Sennacherib, King of Assyria.

Bellino Cylinder

7th century BC; acquisition date: 1825

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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Fragment of the Parthenon frieze

c. 440 BC

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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Fragment of the Parthenon frieze

c. 440 BC

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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Fragment of the Parthenon frieze

c. 440 BC

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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Fragment of the Parthenon frieze

c. 440 BC

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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Frieze

4-3th century BC; brought to Vienna by Edward Glaser in 1882–1894

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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 Justification for this item

Between 1882 and 1894 Eduard Glaser made four expeditions to Yemen, home to the legendary Queen of Sheba. Among the objects brought back by him to Vienna is this 3–4th century AD South-Arabian frieze of ram heads.

Frieze

4-3th century BC; brought to Vienna by Edward Glaser in 1882–1894

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Ionian capital from the Ptolemaion

3rd century BC; excavated in 1873–1875

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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Ionian capital from the Ptolemaion

3rd century BC; excavated in 1873–1875

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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The Rosetta Stone

196 BC; acquisition date: 1801

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

The Rosetta Stone is famous for providing the key to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The inscription is a priestly decree affirming the cult of young King Ptolemy V. The text, written in hieroglyphs, Demotic and Greek, played the key role in the decipherment of hieroglyphs.

The Rosetta Stone

196 BC; acquisition date: 1801

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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Male head

Beginning of 1st millenium AD South-Arabia; brought to Vienna by Edward Glaser in 1882–1894

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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 Justification for this item

Another object brought back by Glaser was this sculpture of a male head.

Male head

Beginning of 1st millenium AD South-Arabia; brought to Vienna by Edward Glaser in 1882–1894

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Parthian Monument: the adoption of the Emperors

After 169 AD

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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Parthian Monument: the adoption of the Emperors

After 169 AD

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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Tomb relief from Palmyra

AD 3rd century

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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 Justification for this item

The ancient world was a cosmopolitan place. In big cities, people from across the known world lived side by side. The different cultures borrowed from each other freely. Here at Palmyra (Syria) was a blend of Roman and Aramaic cultures. Aramaic is still spoken in some villages in southern Syria, as well as by modern Assyrian communities.

Tomb relief from Palmyra

AD 3rd century

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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