Ancient Worlds in Stockholm Part Three: Egypt

…continued from Part Two…

The Mediterranean Museum has a very fine Egyptian collection.  It contains objects which were brought to Sweden in the 1700s by merchants and seamen who collected pottery, amulets and papyrus as souvenirs.  In the 1800s, scientists and explorers traveled along the Nile and often donated objects to the Royal collection, as did the Consul General of Sweden in Egypt.  By the end of the 19th century, there were over 1000 objects on display in the National Museum.

Interest in all things Egyptian was renewed with the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 – six years later, an Egyptian museum opened in Stockholm.  The museum subsequently set about acquiring further objects, including through Swedish excavations and direct purchases from the Egyptian government.  Crown Prince Gustav Adolf, who was instrumental in getting the museum established, also contributed his own objects, purchased during his trip to the Middle East in 1934/5.  Subsequent donations have also bulked up the collection, and now you can see some really fascinating objects, some stunning objects and some which may make you laugh.

Like this woman:

Statuette of gurning woman, 4000-3500BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden 

Statuette of gurning woman, 4000-3500BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

But on the whole, things are rather more sober.

A neat display of pre-dynastic Egyptian finds, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden 

A neat display of pre-dynastic Egyptian finds, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Pre-Dynastic pots, 4000-3500BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Pre-Dynastic pots, 4000-3500BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

A truly magnificent display of statuettes and what-not, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

A truly magnificent display of statuettes and what-not, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ibis statuette, 724-333BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ibis statuette, 724-333BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Tomb statue of man in a loincloth, c2687-2191BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Tomb statue of man in a loincloth, c2687-2191BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Tomb statue of a naked man, c2687-2191BC, Egpyt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Tomb statue of a naked man, c2687-2191BC, Egpyt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

A false door from the tomb of Hershefnakht, c2513-2191BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  The inner panel depicts Hershefnakht sitting in front of table of offerings.  The hieroglyphs explain what he wanted as tomb offerings - his relatives were expected to regularly visit and deliver the real things, but if they didn't, then having a passer-by read the list would be enough.  If no one visited the tomb, then the images of the objects also counted.  So I'm going to safely guess that Hershefnakht's family never delivered the requested thousand loaves of bread, thousand jars of beer, thousand oxen, thousand fowl, thousand alabaster jars and a thousand pieces of linen.

A false door from the tomb of Hershefnakht, c2513-2191BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  The inner panel depicts Hershefnakht sitting in front of table of offerings.  The hieroglyphs explain what he wanted as tomb offerings – his relatives were expected to regularly visit and deliver the real things, but if they didn’t, then having a passer-by read the list would be enough.  If no one visited the tomb, then the images of the objects also counted.  So I’m going to safely guess that Hershefnakht’s family never delivered the requested thousand loaves of bread, thousand jars of beer, thousand oxen, thousand fowl, thousand alabaster jars and a thousand pieces of linen.

Head of King Sesostris I, 1950BC, Karnak Temple, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  With traces of the original paint.

Head of King Sesostris I, 1950BC, Karnak Temple, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  With traces of the original paint.

Range of jars holding the dried food-stuff that was placed in tombs, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Range of jars holding the dried food-stuff that was placed in tombs, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon, showing a mouse wearing a kilt, possibly juggling, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon, showing a mouse wearing a kilt, possibly juggling, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon, showing a mouse sitting in a chariot drawn by two horses, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon, showing a mouse sitting in a chariot drawn by two horses, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon, showing man in a chariot drawn by two horses, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon, showing man in a chariot drawn by two horses, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon of a cat, holding a goose, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Ostracon of a cat, holding a goose, c1315-1081BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fragment of a relief, showing five rooms, c1569-1315BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fragment of a relief, showing five rooms, c1569-1315BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fragment of a relief, showing the interior of a building, c1569-1315BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fragment of a relief, showing the interior of a building, c1569-1315BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

The raised cobra (uraeus), wood, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  This was a symbol of royal power, and is often found on the front of the crowns of royal statues.

The raised cobra (uraeus), wood, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  This was a symbol of royal power, and is often found on the front of the crowns of royal statues.

Boxes and objects made of reeds, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Boxes and objects made of reeds, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Stele showing Ramose, possibly the Amarna period, c1353-1336BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Stele showing Ramose, possibly the Amarna period, c1353-1336BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Linen shawl, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Linen shawl, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Detail of the edge of the linen shawl, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Detail of the edge of the linen shawl, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Spoon depicting a woman stretched out holding a wild duck, c1569-1315BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Spoon depicting a woman stretched out holding a wild duck, c1569-1315BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Statue of a man, c305-31BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Statue of a man, c305-31BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Statuette probably depicting the goddess Isis, Ptolemaic/Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Statuette probably depicting the goddess Isis, Ptolemaic/Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Stele of Peebos, c300 AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  The inscription is in Greek.

Stele of Peebos, c300 AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  The inscription is in Greek.

Downstairs

Be sure not to ignore a staircase going down at the end of the Egyptian gallery – there is a fantastic collection of tomb goods and mummy masks.

An amazing display from Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

The amazing display of Coptic art, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Mummy mask of a woman with delicate features, c30BC-337AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Mummy mask of a woman with delicate features, c30BC-337AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Painted mummy mask of sultry woman, c30BC-337AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Painted mummy mask of sultry woman, c30BC-337AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Mummy mask of a serious woman, c30BC-337AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Mummy mask of a serious woman, c30BC-337AD, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fragment of a mummy board, c1081-931BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fragment of a mummy board, c1081-931BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

What was particularly exciting was seeing a range of Fayum portraits, in all their varying-quality glory.  I have been fascinated by these portraits since I went to an exhibition at the British Museum in what I think was 1997.  It isn’t known when in a person’s life these portraits were made, or if they were exhibited in the person’s home while they were still alive.  In fact, there are many mysteries surrounding them, which is why I wrote an excellent essay on this subject for my MA.  Anyway, the painted wooden panels were placed on mummies buried during the Roman rule of Egypt, and some of them are extraordinary in their realism and their ability to capture the sitter’s character through subtle expressions and beautifully painted eyes.  Others are crap.  However, they are always interesting.

Fayum Portrait of a young man with curly hair, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a young man with curly hair, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a distinguished, greying chap, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a distinguished, greying chap, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a woman with a silly smile, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a woman with a silly smile, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a young man with kohl-lined eyes, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a young man with kohl-lined eyes, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a man with a flying bird in place of eyebrows, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a man with a flying bird in place of eyebrows, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a sad looking woman with greying hair, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a sad looking woman with greying hair, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a striking woman, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a striking woman, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a man with kind eyes, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Fayum Portrait of a man with kind eyes, Roman era, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Range of tomb goods, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Range of tomb goods, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Model of a boat for a tomb, c2061-1665BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Model of a boat for a tomb, c2061-1665BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

The beads of the Mummy of Neswaiu, 3rd century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

The beads of the Mummy of Neswaiu, 3rd century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Mummy of Neswaiu, 3rd century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Mummy of Neswaiu, 3rd century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

The decoration on the Mummy of Neswaiu, 3rd century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

The decoration on the Mummy of Neswaiu, 3rd century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

A model of a grain store for a tomb, c2061-1665BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

A model of a grain store for a tomb, c2061-1665BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Statuette of a seated man, c2191-1665BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Statuette of a seated man, c2191-1665BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Wooden footboard belonging to an Isisirdis coffin, 7th century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  It depicts an Apis-bull, carrying a mummy on its back towards a pyramid-topped tomb.

Wooden footboard belonging to an Isisirdis coffin, 7th century BC, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.  It depicts an Apis-bull, carrying a mummy on its back towards a pyramid-topped tomb.

Coptic textile of two people, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Coptic textile of two people, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Coptic textile of a dog/rabbit, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Coptic textile of a dog/rabbit, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Coptic textile of an interesting design, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Coptic textile of an interesting design, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Detail of Coptic textile of an interesting design, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

Detail of Coptic textile of an interesting design, Egypt, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden

So In Summary

I (nearly) always enjoy museums about the ancient world, because you always see something unusual or peculiar, or that makes you think about the past in a different way.  That, to me, is what a museum is about.  The Medelhavsmuseet was packed full of curiosities but it also had some stunning objects which were beautifully displayed – the highlight for me was the Egyptian collection, although the Cypriot gallery was fascinating, striking and educational and had an almost hypnotic power that makes for a strange but impressive experience.

Further Information

Entry to the museum is free and it also has a cute gift shop.

The museum has its own website, available in English, with good details about its collections: www.varldskulturmuseerna.se

The museum’s child-friendliness is dependent on the child.  However, there were some fun activities for them in the Egyptian section, including the chance to follow in my footsteps and put on a wig and what-not.

I don’t quite understand how this works, but they also have some sort of Minecraft game – or something.  I’m sure it’s cool for those who play it.

How To Get There

The museum is located by the river, near the Parliament.  For how to get there by public transport, check out the handy SL website: www.sl.se

 

 

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