Munich II

The Antiquities Museum

Being an actual Kingdom, and a pretty large one in pre-1870 terms for Germany, the Wittelsbachs (the ruling dynasty) managed to collect some nice stuff … a lot of which is in the Residenz, which I covered in my last blog post. However, they also encouraged the development of a number of major museums, including this one, which has a really nice collection of Greek, Roman and miscellaneous antiquities, mainly pottery (which wass both ubiquitous and has the fortunate property of being damn near eternal, even when broken).

Bronze Griffin heads, Greek, pre-classical.
Greek Bireme or Trireme on a wine serving dish … Black Figure ware, classical period. It’s from surviving (reconstructed from smashed bits, usually) pottery like this that we get a lot of our understanding about Greek technology, culture and society … in this case we can get details on the rigging, the shape of the sail, the shape of the bow and stern and the arrangement of the steering oars for the ship
Polychrome ware – late Classical or Alexandrian/Successor. Hairstyles, fashion, trade (the leopard skin) etc can be gleaned. It’s also pretty great art.

The Egyptian Museum

When I was in Munich last portions of what’s on display here were evidently on display in the Residenz, but not optimally … so they built a new, smallish, museum in the museum precinct to contain a much large selection of the items they have on hand … and display them much more advantageously …

A lot of what we know about Ancient Egypt’s ‘everyday life’ comes from relics found in tombs belonging to the upper classses … here we have some poor sod grinding grain into flour. The much more efficient rotary quern was not yet invented … regardless, it is estimated that it would have taken a whole morning’s work to grind enough grain into flour to bake the bread needed for a ‘typical’ family … whatever that was. Such work was, of course, mostly done by women … or slaves/servants, if you were wealthy enough to have such!
Cats were very popular – keep those bloody rodents out of your food (grain) supply. It is now thought that cats were first domesticated (actually domesticating themselves … deciding that humans were OK since they provided all those nice cat-sized rodents to snack on!) in Mesopotamia sometime after 4400 BC … the Egyptian variety, however, is a different lineage and only appears around 1500 BC … self selected for their character (aka ‘dogs have masters, cats have servants‘ … they decided humans would make their lives easier, and we did!)
They also liked Ibises … a lot. There are tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of mummified Ibis and Cat bodies all over Egypt. This isn’t a mummy, however, but, I think, ceramic?
Strangely enough, the museum also has an Assyrian collection. When they were doing the original collection catalogue in the late 19th century they found they had a significant amount of Assyrian and Babylonian stuff … and it seemed to fit in best with the Egyptian stuff, so it’s remained connected ever since. Typical four winged Assyrian/Bablonian deities on a gold armband.
Another four winged deity in enamel on gold.

More tomorrow, probably of Mainz.


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