The collection of Egyptian artifacts enables us to trace all the stages in the development of Egyptian art and provides a valuable resource for the study of Egypt's history, religion, literature and science from the 4th millenium BC to the 6th century AD. Earliest in chronological terms is a small group of items from the Pre-Dynastic period (5th-4th millenium BC), consisting of earthenware vessels, flint tools and stone palettes. Fragments of reliefs from the tombs of the nobility represent the heights of Egyptian culture of the time of the Old Kingdom (3,000-2,400 BC). One relief from the tomb of a high-ranking dignitary named Nimaatra is notable for its skillful representation of a very important canonical scene of a ritual meal (2,5000 BC). Also typical of the sculpture of the Old Kingdom is a funerary group of painted limestone portraying the nobleman Udjankhdjes and his wife.
The Middle Kingdom (2,100-1,788 BC) is represented by a number of excellent funeral relics, largely stelae and small statuary in wood and stone. The masterpieces of the collection are the statue of Pharaoh Amenemhat III (2,100 BC ) and a world-famous example of Egyptian secular literature, a papyrus text dating back to the 19th century BC – The Shipwrecked Sailor.
The next period is that of the New Empire (1,580-1,050 BC), represented by a number of artifacts and cult objects made of bronze, wood, bone, faience and glass, and by sculptures. A remarkable example of monumental sculpture from this time is the statue of the lioness-headed goddess Sekhmet-Mut (1,500 BC) from the Temple of Mut in Karnak. From the collection of items of the Last Period, particularly worthy of note is the bronze figurine of Kushite, the last king of the Ethiopian Dynasty on the Egyptian throne (7th century BC). Characteristic of the hellenistic era is the statue of Queen Arsinoe II (3rd century BC). A small collection of items from the Roman period includes paintings and sculpture, the most valuable of which are the so-called ‘Fayum portraits'. The rich and diverse collection of the Coptic period, representing so called Graeco-Roman Egypt, comprises over 5,500 items.
The vast collection of fabrics of linen, wool and silk shows the level of the development of textile weaving in Egypt in the 4th to 12th centuries.
Well known to specialists is the collection of papyri, parchments and ostraca (potsherds) bearing Greek, Coptic and Arabic texts, which constitute documents of an administrative, economic or private nature, and literary and religious texts. The museum possesses over 150 items of small statuary from the 3rd to 11th centuries made of stone, wood and bone; a small collection of Coptic easel paintings of the 4th to 7th centuries; over 450 metal objects and 40 pieces of pottery of the 5th to 10th centuries.
Statue of Amenemhat III
19th century BC
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