The Academy and the Egyptology

The Academy of Science and the Egyptian Museum of Turin share the Collegio dei Nobili’s rooms but their relationship dates back to a long time ago.

The collection of archeological finds gathered by the member of the Academy, Bernardino Drovetti, makes up the first part of the Egyptian Museum’s collections. This section has been collocated in Turin, in the Academy building, in order to help the researchers. Moreover, The Academy retains some pieces of the epistolary by Drovetti, which is made of 1500 interesting documents, especially in French, that include his military service, and, his diplomatic and archaeological career. Largely, they were published by Giovanni Marro in the “Corpo epistolare di Bernardo Drovetti”, also by S.Curto and L.Donatelli in the “Bernardo Drovetti Epistolario” and lastly by L.Donatelli in the “Lettere e documenti di Bernardo Drovetti”.

The relationship between the Academy and the Egyptian Museum was extremely close also during the nineteenth and the twentieth century: we can find that some members of the Academy were also the Egyptian Museum’s directors. For example, we mention Giulio Corderodi San Quintino, Ernesto Schiaparelli, who was in charge of the Museum from 1894 to 1928, and Silvio Curto, who was the director from 1964 to 1984.



Among the Academy's historical partners there is also the Egyptology's father, Jean-Francois Champollion, who was a decipherer of hieroglyphs, with the Rosetta's stele translation, who came to Turin in 1824 and was immediately nominated fellow. His stay in Turin was fundamental for his research: the studies of the Drovetti's archeological finds let him lay the foundations of the modern Egyptology.

On 23rd May 2014 the Academy of Science and the Company of San Paolo, that since 1997 takes care of a project to research Bernardino Drovetti and his ancient egyptian collections, organised a worldwide conference "A unique collection of Egyptian finds. Bernardino Drovetti, from adventure to science".

An exposive itinerary has been realized to contextualize the event that has hosted some of the most interesting historical documents on Drovetti's incidents.

The show ended on 30th June 2015 but it is still possible to visit it on our website clicking on the following link.



The Piedmontese Bernardino Drovetti was one of the main promoters of the French influence in Egypt during the earliest years of the Nineteenth century.

He was born in a little town called Barbania on 4th January 1776 and he spent more than 25 years of his life in Egypt.

He had a degree in law, but he decided to undertake a military career in the army led by Napoleon Bonaparte and he became the chief of the staff of Cisalpina Division of the Armée d'Italie.

He also emarked on a diplomatic career: in 1802 he became subcommissioner of the trade relationships to France in Alexandria of Egypt and in 1811 he became French consul in Egypt.

Drovetti travelled a lot in Egypt: during his first assignment as a consul he went twice to the Gyza's pyramids and to the Upper Egypt (up to Assuan). He lost his diplomatic role after Napoleon's abdication, but he kept his residence in Egypt.

He continued to travel and he visited Nubia with Frédéric Cailliaud and the oasis of Kharga, Dakhla and Siwa.

In those years he was looking for finds with his partners (Jean-Jaques Rifaud, Antonio Lebolo and Giuseppe Rossignana). Firstly, they excavated near the city of Thebes, the big temples of Karnak and Luxor and the necropolis west of the Nile. Secondly, the team excavated in Fayum and in Tanis; the excavations were supported by Drovetti and directed by Rifaud.

In a few years Drovetti got back at his own expense a lot of antiques: statues, steles, sarcophaguses, mummies, papyruses, and other objects used daily that he is going to sell in part to the Savoy in 1823. In the main time, the king of France Luis XVIII had nominated him again Consul general, and this time he conducted again an important diplomatic role. Simultaneously he continued his interest for the antiques: he gathered a second collection then sold to the Royal Museum of France in 1827, and in 1828 approved in Alexandria, Egypt, the first real archeological mission, called Literary Expedition French-Tuscan guided by Jean-François Champollion and Ippolito Rosellini.

In 1829 Drovetti gave up his role as a Consul general and left Egypt to go to Paris, before return to Turin where in January 1830 visited the Egyptian Museum that he had partly created. He spent the rest of his life travelling around Europe, and he died in Turin in 1852.



Edit by Aimone Fabiola, Marcello Eleonora, Raffagnin Carlotta, Villella Luca
Liceo Gioberti (Torino)

Progetto di Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro anno 2016-2017