Manchester Ancient Egypt Society members enjoy a range of trips to Egyptology collections across the UK and further afield. Previous trips have included visits to Stockholm, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Liverpool, Southport, Oxford and London.
MAES VISIT TO TURIN – by Hilary Forrest, Louise Hart and Christine Webb
In April 2015, a group of MAES members visited Turin. So why Turin you may ask? Many of you Egypt experts will be bursting to answer- the Museo Egizio. This must be one of the very best collections outside Cairo. It holds the results of 19th century excavations by Drovetti and Schiaparelli which produced some amazing material including whole tomb assemblages.
Egyptology Museum: The museum has recently been refurbished and many of its objects are displayed to their best advantage. Everyone has their favourites. The display is chronological from the top floor down. Highlights include some beautiful Middle Kingdom tomb models, a great collection of sculpture, a very important collection of papyri and many shabtis. The complete tomb assemblage of Ka and his wife includes some exquisite boxes and other furniture including a bed each, pottery jars with long necks and painted patterns, food offerings, clothing and, in fact, everything needed for the tomb owners’ next life are all on display.
The Turin Shroud: Just by chance our choice of date was at a particularly important time for Turin, which is the repository of a sacred relic, the focus of much devotion for believers. This is the Holy Shroud, normally hidden away, but on display for a few weeks this spring. The shroud, believed by many to be the cloth which wrapped the body of Jesus in the tomb, bears the image of a crucified body including bloodstains and nail wounds on hands and feet. Its origin and identity has been the subject of much debate but the devotion paid to it by thousands of believers every day is impressive.
Palazzo Reale (The Royal Palace): The Palace is the definition of “over-the-top” grandeur. You begin by climbing a stunning marble staircase before following a walkway winding through the never-ending rooms decorated with gold, velvet, gigantic paintings and chandeliers which dominate the rooms. There was also a never-ending supply of fat naked babies with wings. It ends in the armoury, a grand room with rows of stuffed horses wearing armour; a display of various weapons, of which one would not wish to be on the receiving end.
The Archaeology Museum is part of the Palazzo Reale: It is split into two sections via a glass tunnel. Most of the items are Roman but many influences from other cultures, including some Egyptian, are apparent. The finds are local and quite recent but laid out in two galleries. The second gallery has a grand walkway sloping down with display cases on each side.
Underground Turin: A true gem of a tour – going beneath the streets of Turin where the bustling people above had no idea what was beneath them. Visiting tombs, ancient streets and royal Ice House this was a truly wonderful trip.
Palace de Madame / Civic Centre: The highlight of the visit was the Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait, with his long hair and long beard. It is suggested that the drawing was probably made in his sixties shortly before he died in 1519. However, some scholars maintain that the drawing might not be a self-portrait, but rather a study he made earlier, around 1490, of a bust of an old man made by Leonardo in Milan.
Other activities during our visit included bus tours, art exhibitions, some Roman remains and art galleries, not to mention a good deal of excellent eating and drinking and a lot of laughter.