Antiquities in Australia

19 December, 2010

Tjeby in open sarcophagus.
Tjeby in open sarcophagus.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: I really love ancient history. Do you have antiquities on display or know of other museums in Australia that do?

Answer: The only antiquities currently on display at Melbourne Museum is the mummy and coffin of Tjeby, an ancient Egyptian government official, who lived almost 4000 years ago. They are located in the Mind and Body Gallery and used to demonstrate the early history of research into human anatomy. The practice of mummification gave ancient Egyptians excellent knowledge of the workings of the human body. In 2011 the museum will also host a temporary exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, which will feature over 130 ancient Egyptian artefacts.

There are a number of other places in Melbourne that do have larger antiquities collections on display:

  • National Gallery of Victoria: antiquities on permanent display at NGV International include objects from Ancient Egypt, Persia, Italy and Greece, as well as Central and South America.
  • Ian Potter Museum of Art at Melbourne University: classics and archaeology collection on display periodically.
  • Australian Institute of Archaeology: museum collection at La Trobe University (Bundoora) campus, which can viewed at public lectures or by students and researchers at the university on request.
  • Museum of Mediterranean Antiquities at Monash University: small museum featuring Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Roman and other ancient artefacts, open by appointment.

Outside of Melbourne many universities have antiquities collections attached to their ancient history programs that are on permanent display in museums. These are important teaching resources but many are also provide public access. Other state museums have ancient artefacts in their own collection that are not on permanent display but can be accessed either online or by researchers. Many large museums also host touring exhibitions of antiquities and artefacts from ancient cultures such as Egypt, China and the Roman Empire.

There are also amazing antiquities collections in famous museums throughout the world, such as the British Museum and the Louvre, and many have great websites where you can view ancient artefacts online.

See the links at right for a wide variety of antiquities collections and information throughout Australia and international collections online.

Comments (2)

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Kriti 19 September, 2011 17:46
some really good stuff
Caroline Tully 8 July, 2016 19:34
Hello, just a note to say that Hamilton Art Gallery in Victoria also has a small collection of antiquities, as seen here: I recently curated a display of them
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