'Museo Egizio’ di Firenze, one of the most important Egyptian collection in Italy

June/ July 2021

With the wonderful panorama of S. Maria Del Fiore in the background, Stefania and Alessandro continue their work on the yellow coffins at the Sezione ‘Museo Egizio’ of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze (MAF).

The 'Museo Egizio'

Established in 1855, the Sezione 'Museo Egizio' di Firenze holds over 14,700 finds and, after the Museo Egizio di Torino, it is the second most important Egyptian collection in Italy.
The first group of Egyptian antiquities has been present in Florence since the 18th century where it formed part of the Medici collections, but it is during the 19th century that the "nucleus" was increased. The first and the most important increase was made by Leopold II, the Grand-duke of Tuscany, who sponsored the scientific expedition to Egypt from 1828 to 1829, led by Jean François Champollion and Ippolito Rosellini. The second increase is linked to the Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli, who was the head of the Egyptian Museum of Florence before his becoming the Director of the Museo Egizio di Torino in 1894. During his years in Florence, new accessions occurred among which was Lot V from the Bab el-Gasus Cache with its coffins, ushabtis and ushabti-boxes.

The yellow coffins

The Museum stores about 100 coffins and sarcophagi dating back to the Middle Kingdom to the Late/ Ptolemaic Period. Amongst these are a group of 14 yellow coffins including their mummy boards, and their inner and outer coffins. A total of 11 of these yellow coffins are from Bab el-Gasus Cache (Lot V). An Egyptological and documentational (i.e., research in the museum archives) study of these coffins was completed by Rogério Sousa in 2018. The Museo Egizio collection has two full sets of yellow coffins, which are both particularly interesting for the project.  

Photogrammetry

The coffins were placed in a horizontal position in the wonderful room of the bronzes. Because of the lighting situation, Stefania and Alessandro used the polarizer on the lens to avoid the many reflections and shiny areas. The polarizer was useful, especially as the coffins were impossible to move out of their showcases, such as the beautiful coffin set of Khonsumes. This set included an inner coffin and a mummy board with markers from the Ramesside Period but it was reused in the middle of the 21st dynasty. With the Khonsumes coffin set unfortunately remaining in the display case, the polarizer played a key role in ensuring photos were taken as it allowed them to be acquired through the glass.

The yellow coffins involved in the Faces Revealed Project

The Faces Revealed team would like to express their gratitude and thanks to Anna Consonni, the Curator of the Sezione "Museo Egizio" di Firenze,  and Mario Iozzo, the Director of the MAF, for their involvement in the Project and for helping to achieve its aims. 

The orthophotographs of the coffins are the result of the photogrammetry completed as part of the Faces Revealed Project (H2020-MSCA-GF 2019: 895130). Photographs by courtesy of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze (Direzione Regionale Musei della Toscana)

 

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References

  • Giachi, G., Maria Cristina Guidotti, S. Lazzeri, N. Macchioni, and L. Sozzi. ‘Wood Identification of Some Coffins from the Necropolis of Thebes Held in the Collection of the Egyptian Museum in Florence’. Journal of Cultural Heritage 47 (1 January 2021): 34–42.
  • Guidotti, Maria Cristina. ‘Coffins of the Third Intermediate Period in the Museo Egizio in Florence’. In Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the Priests of Amun, edited by Rogério Sousa, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney, 409–15. Egitto Antico 4. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.
  • Sousa, Rogério. ‘Examining the Design, Style and Layout of the Inner Coffin from A.60 in the Florence Egyptian Museum’. Cadmo - Revista de História Antiga, 1 January 2017, 57–79.
  • ———, ed. The Tomb of the Priests of Amun: Burial Assemblages in the Egyptian Museum of Florence. Vol. I. Gate of the Priests Series. Brill, 2018. 
  • Sousa, Rogério, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney. Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the priests of Amun. Antico Egitto 4. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.

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