The year was 1826. Nicolau Fiengo, an Italian merchant, had reached the coast of Brazil from Marseilles carrying in his cargo hundreds of Egyptian antiquities excavated by Giovanni Belzoni, an Italian explorer. The objects were bought by Dom Pedro I, Brazil’s first Emperor, and donated to what was then called the Royal Museum of Brazil; they make up the largest part of the collection. In 1876, Dom Pedro II traveled to Egypt and was gifted the beautiful coffin of Sha-Amun-em-su. The extensive collection, which grew in later decades with acquisitions by other members of the royal family and private donors, is now housed in the Museu Nacional (National Museum of Brazil) in Rio de Janeiro.
The Egyptian collection at the Museu Nacional — the biggest of its kind in Latin America with 700 objects — is of great Egyptological relevance to studies of the archaeology of Thebes, and it includes a great number of objects from Abydos as well. The collection’s highlights include a large number of stelae with rare titles and names, a few historically significant statues, several beautiful and elaborate coffins, and hundreds of shabtis. In this website you will be able to find many of these objects, their photographs, and descriptions. Other objects from the collection not shown here include several mummies (both human and animal), papyri, bronzes, prehistoric lithics and ceramics, amulets, and a few Nubian objects.
The work of many people has been instrumental in the development of this online database for the collection. Object descriptions were based on material in Kenneth Kitchen’s catalogue (Catalogue of the Egyptian Collection in the National Museum, Rio de Janeiro, 1990) and on the exhibition labels of the Museu Nacional by Luiza Osorio G. da Silva. Photographs of the artifacts were taken by Antonio Brancaglion/Museu Nacional and Luiza Osorio G. da Silva (with the help of José Maurício Werneck, Leonel Menezes, and Beatriz Estill). All information about the shabtis was adapted from Cintia Gama’s dissertation (Os servidores funerários da coleção egípcia do Museu Nacional, 2008) on the topic.