Friday, January 30, 2015


1786/94 Giuseppe Camporese (1763/1822) with walls covered in Carrara marble

Camporese was a pupil of Pasquale Belli and member of an important family of architects working in Rome and Lazio
At the age of 23 he was appointed papal architect and when a year later, in 1787, Michelangelo Simonetti died, he replaced him as the Chamber Architect of Pius VI
He also designed in the 1786 the ATRIO DEI QUATTRO CANCELLI (Atrium of the four gates) downstairs, which used to be the place of access to the Vatican Museums

In the center “Marble chariot” 1788 by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734/1818) who adapted and completed the horse on the right and the chariot of the first century AD
The chariot was maybe originally part of a votive offering and it was used as the Episcopal throne in the Basilica of St. Mark

“Five sarcophagi for children” II/III century with cupids racing chariots in the circus

From the right:

“Bearded Dionysus aka Sardanapallos” first century AD from original of the end of the fourth century BC by an artist of Praxiteles' circle
The Greek inscription dates to a later period

“Statue of an old Roman man toga-draped and sacrificing” by a Greek artist of the Hadrian's period (117/138 AD) with Roman head first century BC not relevant

“Discus thrower preparing to launch” early imperial period from a bronze original by Nausides, son of Polykleitos of Argos

“Hermes” from an original of the fifth century BC with head not relevant, copy of a portrait of late fifth or early fourth century BC of the Greek strategist Phocion

“Discus thrower throwing the disc” of Hadrian's period from the original by Myron of Eleutherae (about 500/440 BC), from Hadrian's Villa

“Based on a reproduction of the statue with an inscription 'Hyakinthos' in a gem, now preserved in the British Museum, Lippold wanted to acknowledge in the discus thrower the Spartan hero loved by Apollo, whom he accidentally killed while training in the discus throw. The hypothesis, however, more credited nowadays, is Fuchs' according to which the discus thrower would not be a mythical figure, but only a victorious athlete in this event, to whom his polis (city) would have dedicated a statue, according to a widespread custom in Greece” (Brunella Germini)

“Sextus of Chaeronea” stoic and teacher of Marcus Aurelius with head not relevant

Below “Sarcophagus with the contest between Pelops and Oenomaus” about 160

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Room VI - Votive bronzes of the first millennium BC
“Magic stele” to heal the bites of scorpions and snakes, with a representation of the child god Harpokrates

“Ibis of God Thoth” late period 712/332 BC in gilded bronze

“The bird ibis was an animal common in the Nile Valley. It is identified with Thoth, the patron god of writing and calculating, the divine scribe and patron of scribes. In Egyptian funerary speculation, Thoth is the one who weighs the heart of the deceased before the divine tribunal of the afterlife. This beautiful ibis in gilt bronze was restored in 2002 thanks to a grant of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

“Fishes”, “Crocodile god Sobek”, “Bull Apis and the cow his mother”, “Icneumone (called “rat of the pharaohs”), animal sacred to the sun god of Heliopolis Atum, “Scorpion of the goddess Selket”, “Hawk of the god Horus”, “Female cat of the goddess Bastet”, “Some aspects of the snake-goddess”

“Imhotep” the famous vizier of the pharaoh Zoser of the Third Dynasty, the architect who built his pyramid at Saqqara and was deified in the Late Period

Room VII - Bronze and clay figurines of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt


“Aurora Goddess” minor Greek deity becoming more important in Hellenistic Egypt in syncretism with other Egyptian goddesses

Alexandrian Triad, Serapis, Isis and Harpokrates represented in various forms: “God Harpokrates sitting on a lotus flower”. Harpokrates was the Hellenized god Horus

“Priest in the guise of the god Anubis”

Number of molded terracotta figurines called Alexandrian

Christian objects from Coptic Egypt dating from the fifth to the eighth century AD, including oil lamps, incense containers and clay phial for holy water

Egyptian Islamic objects from the eighth to the fourteenth century AD

Room VIII - Mesopotamia, Syria-Palestine and Federico Zeri Collection from Palmyra


“Sale of a piece of land” about 2500 BC by Fara in Central Iraq

“Nail” 1865/1833 BC from Uruk, Southern Iraq, with the name and title of the King Sin-Kashid of Uruk

“List of rations of dates” from Central Iraq

“Cylindrical seals of Mesopotamia” used since the third millennium BC to authenticate the cuneiform documents

Extraordinary “Clay cylinder” of the famous Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (605/552 BC) in which he recalls the foundation of the Temple of God Lugal-Marda in the town of Maradda
Nebuchadnezzar II subdued the kingdom of Judah, destroyed the Temple of Solomon and deported the Jews to Babylon

“Mesopotamia is the place which gave birth to cities, to writing, to the idea of state. Of the extraordinary process of formation of the first civilization are eloquent witnesses the tablets written in cuneiform writing and cylindrical seals, which were used to validate the documents produced by the first public administration in history” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

“Kit of a tomb of the Bronze Age I” 3150/3050 BC from Bab edh-drĂ¡ha in Jordan, one of the largest cemeteries in the Early Bronze Age I

“Vase from burial ornaments of the Early Bronze Age IV” 2300/2200 BC from the Necropolis of Jericho

“The Early Bronze Age IV is the period of Palestinian history in which the region's population abandons the system of urban life to return to the agricultural economy of the village” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

“Group of thirteen funerary reliefs” first to third century AD, ten of which left by the will of the late art historian Federico Zeri, exhibited since 2000 in a display inspired by the niches of the family tombs of Palmyra
They illustrate some of the most common types of extraordinary sculptural production of the city of Palmyra

“Red Ceramic Pitchers ingubbiata” (covered with a thick layer of liquid clay just before cooking, forming a coating film) and polished (rubbed with a wooden or cloth), a characteristic production of the Syro-Palestinian's Iron Age II (1000/800 BC)

“Six bronze arrowheads” of a type characteristic of the Iron Age II B and C (800/586 BC) found in Jerusalem near the fortifications and probably referable to one of the attacks suffered by the city by the Assyrians (702 BC) or Babylonians (589 and 586 BC)

Room IX - 883/612 BC - Reliefs from Assyria (Northern Iraq)


The exploits of kings who extended the boundaries of the first great empire in history from Persia to the Mediterranean, from Anatolia to Egypt were celebrated in grand palaces decorated with cycles of reliefs


“Winged Genius kneeling adoring the tree of life” and “Winged Genius as eagle's head” in limestone alabaster from Nimrud room I of the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (883/859 BC)

“The kingdom of Ashurnasirpal II marks the first great flowering of neoassirian figurative, art which is expressed in the decoration of the monumental Royal Palace that the King built on the north-west of the Acropolis of Nimrud, the ancient Khalku. The two reliefs belong to the exposed plates dedicated to the mythical-symbolic theme of the worship of the Sacred Tree, a symbol of royalty bringer of fertility and life” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

SARGON II (721/705 BC)

“Brick with inscription of Sargon II” (721/705 BC) 706 BC in fired clay, glazed and stamped by the Royal Palace of Khorsabad. The inscription extols the unique construction of the Palace


“Assyrian soldiers carrying stools” part of the spoils of a conquered city (perhaps in Syria), in limestone alabaster from Nineveh (Kuiunjik), South-West Palace of Sennacherib (704/681 BC)

“Workers involved in the transport of a colossal human-headed bull” from Nineveh, Southwest Palace


“Tents of the Arabs in the desert burned by Assyrian soldiers” in limestone alabaster from Nineveh, North Palace of the Arab Hall of Ashurbanipal (680/636 BC)

It is a celebration for the victories against the Syro-Arabian desert nomads

Other reliefs from Ashurbanipal's North Palace including: “Dead bodies floating on a river”, “Grooms hold horses” and “Chaldeans prisoners conducted in a palm grove”

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Room III - 131/138 AD
Reconstruction of the Serapeum and Canopus of Hadrian's Villa with statues:

“Two-faced Osiris/Apis (Serapis) born from the lotus flower” erroneously restored in the eighteenth century with a female lower part

“In the Serapeum of the Canopus Hadrian implements a brave attempt at religious reform, deifying his favorite Antinous drowned in the canal known as Canopus which linked Alexandria to the main branch of the Nile, through assimilation with Osiris, the god who dies and is reborn in turn formerly associated by the Ptolemies with Serapis, Alexandrian divinity of salvation” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

“Priests and priestesses” participating in the ritual of the birth of Osiris

“God Nefertum”

“God Ptah”

“Antinous/Osiris” from the Pecile of Hadrian's Villa, found in 1736

“Isis-Sothis-Demeter” from the Palestra of Hadrian's Villa, found in about 1550

“She was considered to be the bearer of the flood of the Nile River. The bust would hung over a fountain powered by a large tank which, driven by complex hydraulic mechanisms, was able to replicate a sort of Nile flood in the Canopus. The association of Isis with Sothis is also motivated by the fact that in 139 it began a new sothiac era (every 1465 years) and Hadrian had planned a series of festivities for the occasion” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

Room IV - I/II century AD - Egypt and Rome


Statues and a relief Roman imitations of Egyptian originals

“Dog-headed Thoth” from Rome

“God Anubis” in white marble from Villa Pamphilj in Anzio

“God Anubis, lord of mummification, who led the dead to the underworld, represented here in the Roman style wearing a toga, but following an 'Egyptianising' iconography. In his right hand he holds a sistrum, while the left has the caduceus of Hermes, which served to guide the souls in Greek-Roman religion” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

“Hapy God of fertility” found in Veii in about 1812

Room V - 2000 BC/100 AD - Masterpieces of Pharaonic Statuary


“Two statues of the Goddess Lioness Sekhmet” sitting 1390/1352 BC in gray granite, from the Temple of Mut (equivalent to Sekhmet) at Karnak, reign of Amenhotep III, XVIII Dyn

Eight more statues of the same goddess are outside on the hemicycle of the Cortile della Pigna (Courtyard of the Pine Cone)

They were part of two series of 365 statues each on display in the Temple of Mut at Karnak built by Amenhotep III himself

“Head of Mentuhotep II” 2010/1998 BC, XI dynasty from Thebes in yellowish sandstone with face painted red

“Statue of the great priest of Ra Hor-Udja” about 600 BC from Heliopolis, XVI din.

“Colossal statue of queen Tuya mother of Ramses II” (1297/1213 BC) in dark granite with yellowish-red spots, from Thebes

“The Queen Tuya, an important historical figure, was wife of Pharaoh Seti I (1294/1279 BC) and venerated mother of his successor, Ramses II (1279/1213 BC). The work was dedicated in the temple of the latter, the Ramesseum, at Thebes, and from there it was brought to Rome by Caligula (AD 37/41), along with statues of Ptolemy Philadelphus and Arsinoe II (in the room) to adorn the gardens of Sallust, where they were discovered in the eighteenth century, in the neighborhood of Piazza Fiume” (Web site of the Vatican Museums -

“Colossal statues of Ptolemy Philadelphus and Arsinoe II” from Heliopolis in red granite, found along with that of the queen Tuya near Piazza Fiume

“Colossal statue of Arsinoe II-Drusilla” dating back to the reign of Caligula (37/41 AD) from the gardens of Sallust in Rome

Tacitus and Suetonius report of an incestuous relationship between Caligula, faithful follower of the Egyptian religion, and his sister Drusilla that he wanted to celebrate just like an Egyptian goddess

“Genius Bes” protector of pregnant women, I/II century AD from Rome

“Bust of Serapis” second century AD from Rome