Collections | Rediscovering the Past | The formation of museums [54 Objects, 5 Monuments]

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Pendant

Naquada I-II; discovered in 1900–1901

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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 Justification for this item

This ivory tooth-shaped amulet, decorated with a series of diagonal parallel lines, comes from the excavations conducted between 1900-1901 by Randall-MacIver and by the archaeologist Luigi Pigorini. It was donated to the \'Museo Preistorico Etnografico e Kircheriano\' by Pigorini himself, director of the museum.

Pendant

Naquada I-II; discovered in 1900–1901

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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Egyptian vases

3800–3500 BC; bought by Mihail C. Sutu in 1870

National History Museum of Romania

Bucharest, Romania

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 Justification for this item

The civilisations of the Middle East provoked wide interest. As well as the major museum collections, there were many smaller collections in private hands. In time these would often be donated to the public collections. Little is known of the origin of these funerary vessels, but it is known that they were bought by Mihail C. Sutu in 1870. They now form part of the collection of the National History Museum of Romania.

Egyptian vases

3800–3500 BC; bought by Mihail C. Sutu in 1870

National History Museum of Romania

Bucharest, Romania

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Palette

Naquada II; excavated in 1902

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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 Justification for this item

Following the successful excavations by Petrie and Jacques De Morgan, Luigi Pigorini decided to expand the Egyptian archaeological collection in the “Museo Preistorico Etnografico e Kircheriano” where he was the director at the time. Most were donated by David Randall-MacIver in 1901 from his work for the Egypt Exploration Fund in el-Amrah, Upper Egypt. In 1905 came material from the Italian Archaeological Mission in Egypt (excavations of Hammamiye) led by Ernesto Schiaparelli, director of the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

Palette

Naquada II; excavated in 1902

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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Bowl

Second Dynasty; purchased in 1904

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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 Justification for this item

Following the successful excavations by Petrie and Jacques De Morgan, Luigi Pigorini decided to expand the Egyptian archaeological collection in the “Museo Preistorico Etnografico e Kircheriano” where he was the director at the time. Most were donated by David Randall-MacIver in 1901 from his work for the Egypt Exploration Fund in El-Amra, Upper Egypt. In 1905 came material from the Italian Archaeological Mission in Egypt (excavations of Hammamiye) led by Ernesto Schiaparelli, director of the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

Bowl

Second Dynasty; purchased in 1904

National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini”

Rome, Italy

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Nebamun tomb paintings

C14th BC; acquisition date: 1821

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

Salt’s excavator, Yanni d’Athanasi, discovered and removed the exquisite wall paintings from the 18th-dynasty tomb of Nebamun. Here Nebamun counts the flocks of geese being brought before him.

Nebamun tomb paintings

C14th BC; acquisition date: 1821

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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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 came to be known as the “Younger Memnon”. It was removed from the Ramesseum in Thebes by the explorer Giovanni 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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Mummy board and inner coffin for Nes-pauti-taui

21st Dyn, c. 1000 BC; excavated in 1891

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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 Justification for this item

The entire set of coffins was made in Thebes for the Amun priest named Nes-pauti-taui. The mummy board and both coffin lids bear the same decorative scheme. We see enormous ornamental collars of foliage and flowers. The hands, which are separately applied, hold the djed-pillar and the blood of Isis. The faces and wigs are also superimposed.

Mummy board and inner coffin for Nes-pauti-taui

21st Dyn, c. 1000 BC; excavated in 1891

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Egyptian Collection

Vienna, Austria

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Egyptian mummy

22nd dynasty (c. 950–730 BC); beginning of the 20th century

National Museum of Romanian History

Bucharest, Romania

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 Justification for this item

One of the mummies is that of Bes-An, priest of Amun from Thebes, 22nd–23rd dynasties.

Egyptian mummy

22nd dynasty (c. 950–730 BC); beginning of the 20th century

National Museum of Romanian History

Bucharest, Romania

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Cast of a Neo-Hittite relief

8thC BC; Exavacted 1911–13

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

Plaster cast of a Neo-Hittite relief excavated at Carchemish by David Hogarth, Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence between 1911 and 1913. The originals, since damaged, are now in Ankara. There was a tradition in the early 20th century of making casts of objects from digs and in collections, and circulating copies to colleagues. While modern creations, these casts are valuable objects in their own right as they sometimes preserve details no longer visible on the originals.

Cast of a Neo-Hittite relief

8thC BC; Exavacted 1911–13

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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Ishtar Gate

605–562 BC; excavated in 1902

Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, State Museums

Berlin, Germany

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 Justification for this item

The Museum of the Ancient Near East in Berlin opened in 1899. One of its most magnificent displays is the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon. The German expedition brought back many thousands of fragments from the site. After years of painstaking work, the ancient brickwork was reconstructed for all to see.

Ishtar Gate

605–562 BC; excavated in 1902

Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, State Museums

Berlin, Germany

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Sarcophagus of the mourning women

It is thought to be the sarcophagus of the King of Sidon, Straton (374-358 BC)

Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Istanbul, Turkey

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 Justification for this item

The design for the three new Istanbul Archaeological Museums was based on the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, found in Sidon (Lebanon). The sarcophagus itself is based on a Greek temple. The museums’ design thus mirrors contemporary European fashions, while stressing a local identity.

Sarcophagus of the mourning women

It is thought to be the sarcophagus of the King of Sidon, Straton (374-358 BC)

Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Istanbul, Turkey

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Pergamon altar

170 BC; discovered in 1864

Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, State Museums

Berlin, Germany

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 Justification for this item

The German excavators of the early 20th century moved archaeology into a more professional era with their architectural training. The museum collection in Berlin reflects this, focussing on architectural reconstructions of the Mesopotamian, Hellenistic, Roman and Islamic material. The Pergamon Museum owes its name to the discovery in 1864 of a Hellenistic acropolis in Pergamon, Turkey. German engineer Carl Humann had seen lime-burners burning ancient remains and urged the museum to excavate.

Pergamon altar

170 BC; discovered in 1864

Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, State Museums

Berlin, Germany

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Statue of Athlete – Ephesos

2nd century AD (copy after a Greek original from the last quarter of the 4th century BC); found in 1895

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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 Justification for this item

Roman copy of a Greek statue, from Ephesus (Turkey). After competitions in the palestra or sports arena, it was customary for the athletes to clean the sand from their oiled bodies with a strigil, or scraping iron. The Ephesian athlete seen here has already finished this task and, with his hair still wet with sweat, is now in the process of cleaning the strigil itself.

Statue of Athlete – Ephesos

2nd century AD (copy after a Greek original from the last quarter of the 4th century BC); found in 1895

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

One of the strengths of the great European collections was the range of material available. Visitors could compare objects from many cultures. This highlighted both diversity and cultural influences, often profound. This relief of a woman and a man from Palmyra (Syria) was given to the Imperial collection by James Samson, an Austrian diplomat of the Ottoman Empire. Palmyra was a cosmopolitan desert city. These Roman-looking citizens are accompanied by a text in Aramaic.

Tomb relief from Palmyra

AD 3rd century

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Vienna, Austria

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National Museum of Soares dos Reis

1795

Porto, Portugal

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 Justification for this item

The Carrancas Palace is a neoclassical palace built by the Moraes e Castro family. Later it accommodated English generals during the Napoleonic invasions, before becoming a royal residence. In 1833, King D. Pedro IV made it the National Museum of Soares dos Reis, Portugal’s first public museum. It was inspired by the spirit of protecting cultural and national heritage so typical of liberalism.

Palais-Musée du Bardo

19th century

Le Bardo, Tunis, Tunisia

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 Justification for this item

The Bardo Palace, of which the museum is part, is a complex of buildings from the 15th century. It was built on the model of princely residences of al-Andalus, marrying under the Husaynid dynasty, North African, Turkish and Italian architectural styles.

Palais-Musée du Bardo

19th century

Le Bardo, Tunis, Tunisia

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Musée de Carthage

19th century

Carthage, Tunisia

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 Justification for this item

The Museum of Carthage houses magnificent Punic and Roman artefacts excavated at Carthage during the 19th century. It was founded in 1875 on the premises of the White Fathers seminary.

Musée de Carthage

19th century

Carthage, Tunisia

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Mosaic for the inauguration of the Musée du Bardo

19th century

Musée National du Bardo

Le Bardo, Tunis, Tunisia

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 Justification for this item

The Bardo Museum in Tunis holds magnificent Roman mosaics among its collection of antiquities from the region. It was opened in 1888, known then as the Alaoui Museum. At the top-right of this inaugural plaque is the Tunisian flag; at the top-left is the symbol of the French Resident-General. Bey ‘Ali Pasha and the Resident-General, M. J. Massicault, were both present at the inauguration.

Mosaic for the inauguration of the Musée du Bardo

19th century

Musée National du Bardo

Le Bardo, Tunis, Tunisia

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Mosaic of Virgil

19th century

Musée National du Bardo

Le Bardo, Tunis, Tunisia

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 Justification for this item

The Virgil Mosaic is one of the jewels of the Bardo Museum. Discovered in Sousse, ancient Hadrumetum, in 1896, this is the oldest representation of the poet yet known. Flanked by Clio (muse of history) and Melpomene (muse of singing), Virgil sits at the centre holding a parchment scroll. On it is written the eighth verse of the Aeneid, the epic telling how Aeneas fled from Troy, via Carthage, and founded Rome.

Mosaic of Virgil

19th century

Musée National du Bardo

Le Bardo, Tunis, Tunisia

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Firman

1815

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

The official permit (or firman) confirming the appointment of Henry Salt to the post of British Consul in Egypt, dated 23 December 1815. The imperial cipher at the top is flanked by floral motifs. This is a fine manuscript with exquisite Arabic calligraphy and watercolour and gold floral decorations. When Salt arrived in Egypt in 1816 he obtained permission from the Pasha, Muhammad ‘Ali, to collect antiquities for the British Museum.

Firman

1815

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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