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THE UNDERGROUND LEVEL OF THE DUCAL COURTYARD:
EGYPTIAN SECTION OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM


ABOUT ANCIENT EGYPTIAN WRITING

Housed in the underground area beneath the Ducal Courtyard, the Egyptian section of the Archaeological Museum offers a rich overview of ancient Egypt by providing significant information organised into "themes". The first exhibit on display at museum entrance is a cube-shaped statue looking quite puzzling and mysterious with its inscrutable face. In display cases within the room are exhibits that illustrate the ancient Egyptian writing, definitely one of the keys to learning more about uses and customs of the amazing civilization that developed along the Nile River. They believed, in fact, that it was of fundamental importance to record and communicate information about religion and government.

In ancient Egypt, scribes were the only group of people who could read and write. They first had to learn to read and write the hieratic - a cursive script used for keeping government records written on papyri - and then the hieroglyphic writing, which mainly appeared in temple and tomb walls. Among the numerous exhibits on display, particular mention should be made of a wooden board used by scribes to write on, a papyrus model and a bronze statuette depicting Imhotep, patron of the scribes, the famous architect who designed the step pyramid of Saqqara (dated to the 27th century BC) and was deified after his death.

Wooden scribe board,
dating from New Kingdom (1550 through 1075 BC), unknown provenance, acquired in 1991.

The scribe board was used daily for copying hundreds of signs. It is a piece of solid wood with a groove for holding reed brushes and two oval hollows for the red and black inks. The display case also contains a model of papyrus.

Imhotep, bronze, 26th dynasty (664 through 525 BC), unknown provenance.
This handsome bronze statuette depicts Imhotep holding a papyrus in which the architect is called patron of the scribes and of people who had to learn to write and read for their job, for example doctors.
Within the room are also counterfeit papyrus scrolls from Arabia, which the museum naively acquired in 1830. They are made of two small sticks wrapped in genuine papyrus fragments bearing a few lines from the Iliad. Numerous examples of hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic writing on fragments of pottery (the ostraka), sheets of papyrus and pieces of stone or wood are also provided. Mention should be made of two funerary stones, as well as of the famous papyrus fragment known as the Book of the Dead - a sacred text that recorded formulas ancient Egyptians believed useful in an afterlife - , the papyrus of scribe Pa-shed from the New Kingdom (24th-13th centuries BC) and an exquisitely painted mummy breastplate.

   
Stele di donna, polychromatic wood, dating from between the 7th and 6th centuries BC, probably from Thebes, donated to the archaeological museum by Giulio Venino, in 1902.
Stele di Pa-shed, limestone, dating from the period under pharaoh Ramesses II rule (1291 through 1075 BC), unknown provenance, donated to the archaeological museum by Aldo Geri, in 1977.
The first exhibit portrays Anubis and Thoth presenting the dead person to gods Ra and Osiris. The second one portrays the dead person with his family worshipping Osiris.

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Castello Sforzesco - Piazza Castello   20121 MILAN