The Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, in Lisbon, was founded in 1893 under the name 'Museu Ethnologico'. The collection of Egyptian antiquities belonging to the Museum consists of more than 500 objects, 309 of which are on permanent display. The collection, the largest of its kind in Portugal, has been gathered together over the past eighty years. In 1909,
Professor Leite de Vasconcelos, founder of the Museum, brought about 70 objects back from Egypt, mainly of Prehistoric and Graeco-Roman date. A further 200 objects were bought in Egypt by the Portuguese Queen Amelia in 1903, and kept in the National Museum of Ancient Art, and in the Palaces of Ajuda and Necessidades, all in Lisbon, until they were transferred to the Museum. The rest of the collection is made up of donations from several private collectors, such as the Palmela, the Bustorff Silva and the Barros e Sá families.
The objects on display are arranged according to a thematic and chronological order that runs from Prehistory to the Coptic Period, thus covering five thousand years of history. Each of the fourteen sections has a short explanatory text, in the same order as in the catalogue, Antiguidades Egípcias I (1993).
The first section introduces prehistoric materials such as hand axes, palettes, flint knives and pottery from the Nagada period. The second section comprises stone vessels, mainly of alabaster, and covering all periods. The next section is a small group of objects of daily life such as sandals, bead necklaces, rings, bracelets and cosmetic utensils. In section four are funerary stelae and stone inscriptions, including one with a cartouche bearing the praenomen of Ramses IX. The next section contains various statuettes, including a fine bust dating from the Late Period, and is followed by the shabtis section, mostly dating from the Twenty-First Dynasty. Section seven comprises a small group of votive statuettes, section eight is the amulets, and section nine is dedicated to scarabs. The next section is for mummification where there are two sarcophagi, a human mummy, animal mummies and funerary objects such as a very fine boat model. The eleventh section displays funerary cones, and the twelfth deals with bronze statuettes, including some of the most important deities of Ancient Egypt. The last two sections concern the Graeco-Roman and the Coptic periods, respectively.
This collection, although not impressive in quantity, represents a very good cross section of the artistic and utilitarian production of one of the most amazing civilizations in the world, Ancient Egypt.