New light on prehistoric Egypt in museum collections with the PrEMuC project

At the beginning of the twentieth century, several Italian museums were enriched with large collections of Egyptian prehistoric and Predynastic artefacts, mainly lithics and ceramics. Due to the fact that knowledge about the earliest phases of the Egyptian civilization was in its infancy at that time, most of these collections have remained unpublished and often sit virtually abandoned in museum warehouses. Moreover, the fact that these "rocks" and "shards" lack the glamour and “wow-factor” of the treasures of the Pharaonic age, these collections have vanished into oblivion.

The main objective of the multidisciplinary PrEMuC project “Prehistoric Egypt in Museum Collections”, directed by Giulio Lucarini, CNR ISPC researcher, is to shed new light on these important and little-known sources of information about the Egyptian past.

The study will be carried out in the framework of a scientific agreement signed between the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio of Turin, the Institute of Heritage Science of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR ISPC), the Museo Egizio Foundation of Turin and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo of Bracciano (Rome).

The first step of the PrEMuC project will be the study of the rich Predynastic collection coming from the excavations carried out at the beginning of the twentieth century at the sites of Heliopolis, Hammamiya and Gebelein in the framework of the Italian Archaeological Mission directed by Ernesto Schiaparelli, first Director of the Museo Egizio of Turin. Overall, it is the richest collection of Egyptian prehistoric and Predynastic artefacts currently present in Italy. The ceramic artefacts are kept in the Museo Egizio of Turin, while the lithic artefacts are temporarily stored for study at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo of Bracciano.

The study of this collection will be possible thanks to the very generous donation of the Ethnos Kalos, Doloresa und Jurijus Gleba Foundation (Munich, Germany), which will allow the activation of two research fellowships hosted by the CNR ISPC, under the scientific supervision of Giulio Lucarini.

The PrEMuC project will involve several activities: archival documentation analysis; techno-typological and functional analysis of the artefacts; 3D modeling and printing; digital storytelling and public engagement; student training.

Analytical investigations will be carried out at the CNR ISPC laboratories, in collaboration with the Museo Egizio of Turin, the CSIC (Spain), the Università della Calabria, and the Universität Tübingen (Germany).