Room II. Funerary customs of ancient Egypt

The passage between the two papyrus-shaped columns leads to Room II, which houses, in a high decorated frame, a long hieroglyphic inscription composed by Fr. Luigi Ungarelli, the Museum’s first curator. The text celebrates the founding of the Gregorian Egyptian Museum by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839, in the ninth year of his papacy. The Pope’s name is written inside a cartouche, like that of a pharaoh.
The room is dedicated to the burial customs of ancient Egypt. The exhibit is divided among seven display cases, arranged around a central one containing various polychrome wooden sarcophagi dating from the Third Intermediate Period and a reconstruction of the grave goods of the age.
The Egyptians paid particular attention to the construction and decoration of the tomb, considering it to be the “house of eternity” where the deceased would be regenerated and where everything that may have been necessary for a serene afterlife was preserved.
Two mummies are also displayed in this room, expressing the great care that Egyptians took to conserve the body, an indispensable condition for entering the Hereafter.
Dating from the Roman Age there is a splendid linen cloth which would have enshrouded the body of a noblewoman, known as the “Lady of the Vatican”, from the city of Antinopolis.
Also from the Roman Age there is a Fayum portrait of a young man, a finely painted wooden board which would have been placed over the face of the deceased among the bindings, with the same purposes as a mask: to protect the face and to substitute it should it deteriorate.