The Picozzi Collection

The Picozzi Collection has a special value thanks to its connection with the history of Egyptology in Italy. On the one hand it is linked to the great Pharaonic collection of the Archaeological Museum of Florence commissioned by Grand Duke Leopold II (brought back to Italy by Ippolito Rosellini following the Franco-Tuscan Expedition to Egypt and Nubia – 1828/1829). On the other hand, it is linked to the group of Pharaonic finds preserved in Pisa in the Museo dell’Opera Primaziale, and donated to this Museum as early as 1830.

The collection consists of a hundred archaeological finds, coming from the Nile valley, and material of important artistic and archival value.

Some examples are an unpublished sketch of the frontispiece of the “Monuments of Egypt and Nubia” by Ippolito Rosellini; a watercolour portrait by Champollion (copy of U. Umiltà from an oil drawing by Alessandro Ricci dated: “On the Nile 5 October 1829”); an Ethiopian “magic scroll” and other interesting objects of Nubian archaeology from the end of the last century (important as “Rosellini’s” relics).

The Schiff Giorgini Collection

In 1964 the University of Pisa enriched its collections thanks to a donation of exceptional value made by Michela Schiff Giorgini (1923-1978). Since 1956 she had opened an archaeological site in Sudan, first in Soleb and then in Sedeinga, under the patronage of the University of Pisa.

The material from the excavations was partly donated to the Museum of Khartoum and partly to the University of Pisa. The University of Pisa preserves the finds that the Sudanese government has progressively attributed to the Italian archaeologist.

In 1971 the University of Pisa awarded her an Honorary Degree.

The Schiff Giorgini Collection is numerically large (about 400 pieces) and its interest derives mainly from material belonging to archaeological contexts explored and methodically studied: the temple of Amenophis III and the necropolis of the New Kingdom in Soleb, and the area of the Meroitic necropolis of Sedeinga.

Many of the pieces in the Pisan collection are precious and unique: a bronze mirror ageminated with gold, electro (an alloy of gold and silver) and copper, a large beetle of Amenophis III, whose hieroglyphic text engraved on the flat side commemorates the “lion hunt”, a fragmentary diorite statue of Amenophis III – Nebmaatra, a pink sandstone block from the temple of Soleb, in which the portrait of Amenophis III is sculpted with refined art.
The Pisan collection is rightly considered one of the richest in Europe for the meroitic material it contains: sculptures with and without inscriptions, ivories, bronzes and glass.

Pride of place among these materials is taken by the splendid “blue chalice” decorated with a Greek inscription (“Drink and you may live!”) and a figurative decoration, polychrome and gold, inspired by Egypt and Alexandria. This chalice is included among the masterpieces of glass production of the Roman age (3rd century AD). A silver ring (with a hieroglyphic inscription on the bezel) from Soleb, donated in 1997 by C. Robichon was also added to the material donated to the University in 1964.

The documents relating to the excavation campaigns (Michela Schiff Giorgini), conducted from 1957 to 1976, with the patronage of the University of Pisa in Soleb and Sefeinga in Sudan, are published on the website of the Photographic Archive of the University of Pisa, on the webpage:

The Monica Benvenuti Donation

This is a collection of 14 bronze instruments of royal origin, belonging to the sovereigns Hatscepsut and Thutmosi III. They were purchased on the antique market (Cybèle, Paris) in 2001 and donated by Monica Benvenuti from Livorno.

The names of the two sovereigns are engraved on some utensils of the collection.

On the blade of one of the three axes is engraved the name and prename of Hatscepsut: “The perfect god Maat-ka-Ra daughter of Ra Khenem-Amon, may he live eternally.

The name of Thutmosi III is engraved on four tools. On the blade of an axe is engraved the text: “The perfect god Men-kheper-Ra, loved by Hathor lady of Dendera”, indicative of the origin of the object from the temple of Hathor in Dendera.

The Ostrakas of Oxyrhynchus

In 1968, the Egyptological Collections acquired a very substantial collection of more than 1500 ostraka. The term “ostraka” refers to fragments of terracotta pottery, used in ancient times as a writing support. The majority of this collection are documents written in Demotic (some are figurative; few are written in Greek and Coptic), dating back to Roman, Augustan and post-Augustan times.

This collection is a large archive relating to the traffic, especially of cereals, between Oxyrhynchus and the Baharia Oasis. The Pisan demotic archive of Oxyrhynchus is completed by other ostrakas located at the University of Cologne, therefore the publication of the entire archive allows an international scientific collaboration between Pisa and the German University. This documentation is fundamental for the history of the economy and the organization of trade between Egypt and the Oasis in Roman times.

Recent acquisitions

In recent years the Egyptological Collections of the University of Pisa have been enriched by a series of interesting pieces, which are the result of private donations.

Among the finds you can admire a beautiful glass on peduncles and the front of a wooden drawer with a bronze handle. Among the private donations it is also possible to see a sandstone stele from the Ptolemaic era, depicting the pharaoh making an offering to the god Thot in the form of a baboon, six small bronzes of divinities and two bronze eyes that were used to embellish a wooden sarcophagus. Other very interesting donations are also six blue faience plates destined to be slipped into a necklace; each plate is decorated on one side with the representation of the head of the god Bes and on the other side with the udjat-eye. The funeral netting, originally placed over the blindfolded mummy, which represented the face of the deceased, was also made of faience pearls of different colours. Among the pieces belonging to the last donation received in June 2012 there are a balm and a small colourless glass olla, a bronze ring and faience amulets.

The Breccia Archive

The archive of the great archaeologist Annibale Evaristo Breccia was donated to the University of Pisa in 1967 by his wife Paolina Salluzzi. The entire archive includes: the correspondence of 2263 letters sent to the scholar by the major representatives of culture and archaeology of the first decades of this century, the manuscripts including notes, plans for publication, reports and photographs of excavations, drawings of monuments and finds, and finally the photographic plates.

Annibale Evaristo Breccia (1876-1967) was a famous archaeologist and academic of the Lincei who directed the Greek Roman Museum of Alexandria between 1904 and 1932, succeeding Giuseppe Botti. The archaeological activities of Breccia in Egypt, with important discoveries in the most important sites of the Nile Valley (from the Alexandrian and Delta area to Giza, Ermopoli, Fayum, Oxyrhynchus, El Hibeh and Antinoe), occupied about thirty-five years, until 1937. That year a serious illness forced him to give up excavations, which continued with Sergio Donadoni. Annibale Evaristo Breccia returned to Italy in 1933 and became professor of Antiquity and Greek and Roman History at the University of Pisa. He was also rector of the University from 1939 to 1941.

The Breccia correspondence has recently been rearranged and inventoried and can be consulted online.

Consult it

For the consultation of the original documents and for more information, please contact: Flora Silvano (+39) 050-2215579

A piece of Ancient Egypt at the Museo di Anatomia Umana

The Museo di Anatomia Umana (Museum of Human Anatomy) “Filippo Civinini” (Sistema Museale di Ateneo) preserves an Egyptian mummy with the original sarcophagus, beautifully painted and in excellent condition. Its origin is presumably attributable to the Franco-Tuscan expedition to Egypt and Nubia in 1828-29 by Ippolito Rosellini, following Jean-François Champollion.


You can download the free app on your smartphone, looking for the tour “Egyptological Collections of the University of Pisa“, which contains 26 descriptive cards to read or listen to during the visit, or simply to keep on your smartphone.