In Torino: the Egyptian Museum - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

October 29, 2018

In Torino: the Egyptian Museum

The Museo Egizio, the Egyptian Museum in Turin, is the second largest museum of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world - second only to the museum in Cairo.  For both of us, this was the greatest museum experience we have had in years.  For me personally, it ranks up with visits to the Smithsonian and the British Museum, though of course on a more focused scale.  It really is an experience not to be missed, if you are in Turin.

We really don’t go to all that many museums, and weary fairly quickly with slowly moving through them, stopping to consider one wonder after the next.  We seldom spend more than about two hours, so we weren’t concerned that we were seeing it on a Sunday, when it is on a half day schedule.  After an absolutely engrossing four hours though we ran out of time, and we’re rushed at the end.  There is so much to see, and to be awed and moved by, that you really can’t take it all in.  I hope to get a chance to return some year.

The museum itself, which reopened in 2015 after extensive remodeling, is exceptionally well run and presented.  Admission includes an excellent audioguide that steers you through two thousand years of history.  Every stop on the guided itinerary holds great interest, as of course do the many other objects on display that surround the highlighted ones.

I won’t try to say anything bright or deep about ancient Egyptian art or history, but I will say that the visit was a very moving, enlightening and thought provoking experience.  

Statue of princess Redji. Old Kingdom, 3rd dynasty, 2,500 BC.
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Small wooden casket with bone and faience inlays. Old Kingdom, 5th dynasty, 2,400 BC.
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False-door stela from the mastaba of Iteti. Old Kingdom, 4th dynasty, 2,500 BC. A false door was a door shaped element, and the site for the imaginary passage between the realms of the living and the dead.
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Detail from the false door above. Supplies are being brought to the door for the needs of the deceased.
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Funerary stela showing food offerings being given to Iti and Neferu. Limestone, First aintermediate Period, 2,100 BC.
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Cow licking it’s newborn calf. Tempera, First Intermediate Period, 2,100 BC. Zoom in on the text for context.
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I didn’t take enough note here, but I think these are the eyes of the deceased, gazing outwards. This and the next two shots show the stylistic development of the element over time.
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The middle coffin lid for Kha, a tomb builder for the pharaohs, 3,500 BC.
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Sarcophagus, Third Intermediate Period
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Another sarcophagus, from the Third Intermediate Period. During this period, the deceased were buried within three nesting sarcophagi. I believe this is the innermost one, that would have contained the mummy.
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Sarcophagus detail: the ram-headed god Amon-Ra, depicted with the body of a vulture.
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Another sarcophagus. I’m sorry I failed to take a photo of the inside of one of these lids. They’re completely covered in dense hieratic text: the Ritual of the Opening of the Mouth, a very old religious text to reanimate the deceased.
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Sarcophagus detail
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Coffin for a mummified cat
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Coffin for a mummified fish
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Bruce LellmanThis makes me want to carve a wooden coffin for my mummified frog.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanOf course you have a mummified frog. Don’t we all?
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanRemind me to show you my mummified frog next time we are together. My father found it and brought it to me during my freshman year of college.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanOh! My apologies. I thought you were joking.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanI never joke about mummified frogs.
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1 month ago
Coffin for a mummified ibis
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The dead were expected to work in the afterlife, but the lucky ones could task their labors out to shabti (surrogate workers). A full crew consisted of one for every day of the year, plus a supervisor for every ten common laborers.
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Shabti, Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 650 BC. They bear whips, so these must be supervisors.
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Coffin box detail. Wood, Late Period, 600 BC
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Coffin box detail, with baboons. Wood, Late Period, 600 BC
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Stela dedicated to Amen-Re (‘the good ram’). Limestone, New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty.
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Stela dedicated by Hor, son of Wakamantu, to Isis and Osiris
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Another stela, from the Late Period. Wood, because by the Late Period stelae we’re buried within the burial chamber with the rest of the grave goods, and so could be made of a less durable material.
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A ruler for the royal cubit, the official unit of measurement
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Fragment of a large papyrus tomb blueprint
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Ostricon (pottery shard) showing a dancer in an acrobatic position. Limestone, New Kingdom, 19th dynasty, 1,200 BC
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Ostricon dedicated to Meretseger, Tomb guardian and goddess of punishment and mercy. Limestone, New Kingdom, 20th dynasty, 1,200 BC
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Amenhotep II, offering globular vases to the gods
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The short video below is in the hall of statues, at the end of the exhibit.  Everyone is being rushed out, while trying for one or two last looks.  We were rushing through the last hour of our visit as it was, but we wished we had known that this was at the end and had saved some time for it.  It was time to leave at the moment we entered the hall.

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Keith ClassenWow! A destination for sure!
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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetI agree with Keith. I had no idea this existed and now I'll be including Torino in a future trip.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesDo you know of Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods and many other books about ancient civilizations? He seems to argue plausibly that Egyptologists as a group are misled about how and when the pyramids were built, and many other things. Did you get the impression from the museum that the civilization of Egypt is very well and correctly understood, or not?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetDefinitely worth a trip, I’d say. I’m sure there are many other great things in Turin also, as well as Piemonte as a whole. We didn’t see as much as we would have liked.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI’m a believer. It is incredible that there is claimed to be such knowledge and understanding of their society - the names and lineages of these families, for example - but I think they know of what they speak. I remember reading Gods, Graves and Scholars as a child, about the history of archaeology. It’s fascinated me ever since.
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1 month ago