Egyptian museum of Turin

 

The most important museum about ancient Egypt… well, that would be in Cairo, obviously. The second best, however, is in the very un-Egyptian center of Turin, Italy. The reason is triple, since the current collection is the sum of three different archaeological works. The first chunk of relics were donated to the royal house of Savoy in the late 1700s by one of the first European Egyptologists, Vitaliano Donati. When the Napoleonic conquest of northern Africa made ancient Egypt fashionable among the European elites, the French consul quickly hoarded over eight thousand more items, which were sent to the Italian region of Piedmont where he was born.

The collections were merged in 1824 by order of the Italian king, and together with various smaller collections they became the basis for the newly opened Egyptian Museum in Turin. The third and larger influx arrived thanks to the field work of the museum director himself in early 1900s. Today the museum houses over thirty thousand relics from prehistoric Egypt through the Sixth century.

The biggest attractions for the general public are probably the tomb of the architect Kha, which is exhibited in its entirety, including dozens of perfectly preserved items and papyrs; the Nubian temple of Ellesija, which an Italian project saved from being submerged; the Golden Mines papyr, the most ancient road map ever; and the mysterious Bembine Tablet, a bronze relic built with Egyptian technology but decorated with fake hieroglyphs of Roman origin. The museum collections are however priceless for their significance and sheer volume.

What makes the Turin museum unique is also its breathtaking exhibition style, making full use of the palace housing it. Some halls are lined with dozens of huge ancient statues, other rooms allow visitors to examine the various layers of the mummification process extremely close, and other still offer the unparalleled chance to actually enter a temple as it appeared over twenty centuries ago.