by institutions and collections

Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, Zagreb

Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, Zagreb website

The Archaeological Museum in Zagreb is the only museum in Croatia that systematically collects and presents ancient Egyptian antiquities from the middle of the 19th century. By systematic preservation, and the presentation of the Egyptian collection through permanent exhibitions and many part–time temporary exhibitions, the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb has become one of the most important institutions in Croatia which constantly gives the general public and scholars diverse information about the culture and history of ancient Egypt.

The Egyptian Department
The Egyptian collection in the former National Museum of Croatia and today’s Archaeological Museum in Zagreb has been formed through different sources during its 150 years of existence. The so–called Zagreb mummy and its wrappings were part of the first Egyptian artifacts in the collection. They were brought to the museum on 5th August 1862 during the time of the curator Mijat Sabljar (Dubica, 1790–Zagreb, 1865). Thanks to the bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Franjo Rački, historian, politician, and at that time the president of the ex–Yugoslav Academy of Science and Art, the collection was augmented in 1868 with a large collection of Egyptian antiquities from the private collection of baron Franz Koller (Mnichovo Hradište, 1767–Naples, 1826) which was purchased earlier that year from the heirs of Baron Koller. Up to the present day, this ex–private collection formed in the early 19th century was the backbone of the Egyptian department. During the 150 years of its existence, its holdings were increased many times, mostly through small donations from local citizens, a single donation from the Egyptian government in 1973, and by purchases of smaller private collections. The collection contains approximately 2,300 artifacts of which the majority is small art like scarabs, amulets, shabtis, and statuettes of gods. But there are also valuable examples of stelae, Books of the Dead, mummies, and sarcophagi. Most the artifacts date from the Middle Kingdom, the New Kingdom, the Late Period, and the Graeco–Roman Period. The provenance of the artifacts is mostly unknown.

The Ancient Department
The Archaeological Museum in Zagreb also houses a variety of artifacts connected with the worship of Egyptian cults in the territory of Roman Illyricum (mostly from provinces Dalmatia and Pannonia with several expections from other provinces of Southeastern region of the Roman Empire). At the moment, there are at least 36 such objects in the department. They are mostly statuettes of gods (Isis, Serapis, Hermes–Thot, Isis–Fortuna, and Harpocrates), many other artifacts associated with the worship of the Egyptian deities. The majority of these artifacts were acquired during the course of archaeological excavations since the 19th century. The bronze Hermes–Thot, Isis–Fortuna, and Harpocrates statuettes, sphinx, and other smaller artifacts originating from Graeco–Roman Egypt came into the possession of the Museum through the purchase of the Koller collection in 1868. The several inscriptions excavated in Varaždinske Toplice during the archaeological excavations in 2011 and 2012 are still in situ. The number of the artifacts related to Egyptian cults from Andautonia is uncertain; there are at least two related to the cult of Isis-Fortuna and Jupiter-Ammon, but the material is still unpublished.

The Numismatic Department
The Numismatic Department of the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb comprises a very large collection of coins. Two collections are associated with ancient Egyptian civilization: the collection of Ptolemaic coinage, and the collection of coinage from the Alexandrian mint of the Roman province of Aegyptus. There are at least 175 specimens of Ptolemaic coins from all periods of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Most of them were purchased from various private collections (e.g. Benko Horvat), but there are also specimens that were excavated in several places in Croatia. The numismatic collection of the Roman imperial Alexandrian mint (emperors from Augustus to Constantine I) is very large and comprises at least 520 coins. These coins bear the images of various Roman emperors and their co–rulers or the images of various Egyptian Hellenistic deities (such as Apis, Isis, Osiris, Harpocrates) originating from the other African, and eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. In this department are also Roman coins not minted in Alexandria bearing images of Egyptian gods, but their number is uncertain.

Items from the collection