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Collections: Ancient Egyptian Art


Number of objects: more than 1000
Historical range: 2,500 B.C.E.–400 C.E.
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Head of a pharaoh

Charles Lang Freer's interest in glazed ceramics from Asia inspired him to seek out glazed pottery from ancient civilizations. When he learned that the oldest known glazed pottery (at the time) had been excavated in Egypt, he traveled there to add samples to his collection. As a result of his three trips to Egypt between 1906 and 1910, Freer became convinced that his collection would also be incomplete without examples of ancient Egyptian sculpture.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • A painted wooden shrine containing a standing figure of Horus, the Egyptian sky god represented with the head of a falcon, both of which date to the Ptolemaic Dynasty (ca. 305–30 B.C.E.)
  • A world-famous collection of glass vessels produced during Dynasty 18 (ca. 1539–1295 B.C.E.)
  • A pair of stone falcons, probably from a temple near Alexandria, dating to the Ptolemaic dynasty
  • Amulets made of faience, stone, metal, and glass depicting gods, goddesses, and sacred animals