One Friday in June and exactly Friday 17th (I still remember it well because it was a real Friday 17th with all its misfortunes), I decided to take the opportunity of the reopening of the Archaeological Museum of Verona to visit it again: it is one of the places I love most about this city because of its fantastic location.
The museum was renovated and reopened to the public at the end of May: I must say that I really like the new version. On this occasion I had the opportunity to get to know better the ancient Egyptians in Verona: a temporary exhibition was set up entitled Egypt in Verona and wants to highlight the relationship that there was in the past between Verona and Ancient Egypt.
What are the Egyptians doing in Verona?
The first finds related to Ancient Egypt arrived in Verona thanks to the antiques trade around the sixteenth century. These pieces, now dispersed, were collected in a kind of museum organized by Francesco Calzolari.
In 1656 a catalogue was published containing descriptions of other finds linked to a small group of objects collected by Count Ludovico Moscardo, now collected in the Museum Miniscalchi Erizzo. Over time and thanks to some passages of inheritance, some mummies were donated to the Civic Museums of Verona in 1912 and now on display in the Museum of Natural History.
The material exhibited at the Archaeological Museum is due to the art collector Francesco Muselli: thanks to a flourishing trade in this field, in 1756 they became part of his collection. I remember that the Muselli family was already known in the past as art collectors: the Muselli collection was one of the most prestigious picture galleries in Italy in the seventeenth century.
Together with the Giusti and Curtoni collections, it represents the flagship of the Veronese collection. Giacomo Muselli, who lived during the seventeenth century, succeeded in a short time to collect as many as 150 pieces, all of excellent quality.
The exhibition “The Ancient Egyptians in Verona”
The materials on display are mainly materials kept until now in the basements of the museum and never exhibited: thanks to the EgyptVenetia project have been returned to the population.
The Egyptian finds were only exhibited in 1999-2000 and began to be part of the collections of the Museum in various contexts very different from each other. The pieces are few, not more than a hundred and their origin is uncertain or unknown.
How is the exhibition organized?
Cult and magic: it highlights the complex world of cults and already the Greeks and Romans perceived them as exotic because of the worship of the gods in animal form.
On display are some hollow bronzes containing mummies or part of them of animals, then purchased by devotees or pilgrims to lay them in sanctuaries. You can find the god-ariety, the ox Apis and the goddess-cat Bastet.
Life beyond death: the ancient Egyptians are best known for their Pyramids and mummies. This section introduces all those typical objects that accompanied the journey of the deceased to the afterlife. You can admire the hshabty, figurines of “servants” who replaced the deceased and ready to respond to the call of the god of the deceased Osiris.
In addition, there are also some parts of mummies (I assure you, impressive!!), lent by the Museum of Natural History of Verona that tell the story of the embalming process practiced by the ancient Egyptians to ensure the journey beyond the dead.
African civilizations and Rome: during the Roman Empire, the cult of Isis, her husband Serapis (Osiris) and her son Arpocrates (Hours) spread. Cult found both in the home and in the temples where priests dressed in a peculiar way practiced.
In the permanent part of the exhibition you can admire the materials found during the archaeological excavations in the sanctuary of the gods in Verona. Among these there is a marble head and is a copy of a well-known sculpture that is located in Rome.
In the second part of this section is highlighted the interest of the Veronese archaeologists towards the African world but especially towards all those curious animals that inhabited Africa and its inhabitants, arousing a lot of interest among the Romans. Think that Africa was represented with an elephant-headed headdress and with a tusk of the same animal on his arm.
EgyptMania: as the word itself says, tells the mania and the strong attraction that Egypt with all its culture had during the course of time on the Westerners, Europe in particular and not only on archaeologists but also on ordinary people.
A Veronese in Egypt: tells of Carlo Anti, an archaeologist from Verona who was born in 1889 near Verona. He was the first to study and analyze the Roman lamps of the museum of Verona. Think that he directed the Italian excavations in Tebtynis (now Umm el Breigât in Fayum), 170 km from Cairo, in the thirties of the last century.
Tebtybnis was a village born around 1800 BC, inhabited until the twelfth century AD, an important center because it provided over time the largest number of Egyptian papyri. Still today it is a centre for both Italian and international studies.
When to visit the ancient Egyptians in Verona?
The exhibition to get to know the ancient Egyptians in Verona is allestina inside the Archaeological Museum and is part of the circuit of the Civic Museums of Verona!