On the shadow of the Pyramids. Dignitary Nefer’s Mastaba
30 December ’16 – 28 May ’17, Museum of ancient sculpture Giovanni Barracco, Corso Vittorio Emanuele (Roma)
Entrance fee: free admission
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 am – 4.00 pm. Last admission 3.30 pm. Closed on Monday, 25th December, 1st May.
Audioguide: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish: 4,00€
Information: Phone n. 060608 (everyday from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm), www.museiincomune.it; www.museobarracco.it
The Barrocco Museum stores the precious “stele della falsa porta” of the dignitary Nefer, who lived in Egypt during the IV Dynasty (2575-2465 a.C.), the same dynasty of the great pharaohs who built the pyramids. Thanks to Nefer’s high position in the court – he was the superintendent of the king’s scribes and superintendent of the supply storage and the “weapon’s house” – he had the honor of being buried in one of the royal cemetery’s mastaba at the bottom of Chope’s Pyramid. Mastabas (from the Arabic word “bench”) are the funerary buildings used during the first dynasties of Egyptian civilization. They are truncated pyramid shape structures that are built to accommodate a funerary pit, which connected the external areas with the funerary chamber below. In the chamber, the deceased and his goods were buried.
Nefer added a small funerary chapel in the tomb’s structure, covered with reliefs, which have been reconstructed in their original form by the Barocco Museum. The tomb’s reliefs, which are now preserved in various European and American museums (Louvre in Paris; Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek; Museum of Birmingham, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Philadelphia; Museum of Fine Arts of Boston) are recreated, by the use of drawings, in the reconstructed funerary chapel with the aim to have a clear idea of the general image of the Egyptian tomb dating to the 3rd millennium B.C..
The exhibition includes the reconstruction in real dimension 1:1 – on the external loggia on the first floor of the Museum- of Nefer’s Funerary chapel which is recreated with backlit slides that reproduce the complete internal decoration.
Giovanni Barracco bought the stele of the Barracco Museum in 1868 at an auction in Paris during the selling of the collection of Napoléon-Joseph-Charles-Paul Bonaparte, son of the younger brother of Napoleon I. The Prince had organized an expedition to Egypt in 1858, following the footsteps of the Napoleonic expedition in 1798-1801. The governor of Egypt, Said Pacha, decided to organize a series of archaeological excavations in order for the Prince to discover for himself the archaeological treasures of the pharaohs that emerged as magic from the desert.
Auguste Mariette, a famous egyptologist and at that time curator of the Egyptian section of the Louvre, was called into Egypt to prepare this show. Mariette arrived in Egypt in 1857 and, in a short time, he managed to open 35 excavations. He directed all the digs personally and constantly controlled the discoveries that came from the varying places. The results from those activities were impressive in regards to quality and quantity.
The journey of the Prince was eventually canceled, but he received as gifts various Egyptians discoveries, among them the Nefer stele. In a moment of political difficulty, prince Napoleon sold the collection. And so, the Nefer’s stele became the first piece of the Barracco collection.
Roma Capitale – Assessorato alla Crescita culturale – Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
In collaboration with
MasterCard Priceless Rome
Zètema Progetto Cultura
© Museo di Scultura Antica Giovanni Barracco