Museo Egizeo – The Worlds First Egyptian Museum

The Museo Egizeo (Egyptian Museum) in Turin, Italy, houses the second largest collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world. The prestigious institution is considered one of a holy trinity of museums dedicated to the period, the others being The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and The British Museum in London. The collection is the legacy of the European Egyptologists of the colonial era who systematically collected and salvaged relics which were abandoned in the desert temples.

Turin’s fascination first began in 1630 when the Mensa Isiaca, an imitation Egyptian table probably made in Ancient Rome, was brought to the city. This find so enthralled the later king, Charles Emmanuel III, that he sent Vitalino Donati to Egypt to acquire more in 1753. Donati returned with over 300 pieces from the large temples such as Karnak. The museum itself was not created until 1824 when Carlo Felice bought the collection of the French Consul General of Egypt. Napoleon had invaded Egypt at the turn of the century and annexed Turin in 1802, so the continent was linked to Egypt through trade. The French Consul General was in fact an Italian.

At the same time Jean-François Champollion came to Turin to test his theory for deciphering hieroglyphics; he would later translate the Rosetta Stone, founding modern Egyptology. Champollion famously attested “The road to Memphis and Thebes passes through Turin”. The Duchy of Savoy, who ruled the city of Turin and later the united Italy, continued to swell the collection with more acquisitions throughout the century, and their work was continued during the 20th century.

Nowadays the Victorian building retains its original grandeur, with highlights of the exhibitions being the Temple of Ellesija (c.1450), which was gifted by the Arab Republic of Egypt, the statuary rooms and the several versions of the infamous Book of the Dead.

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