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    Exploring the Legacy of Polish Pioneers in Ancient Egypt at the Archaeological Museum in Krakow

    Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

    Explore the roots of Polish Egyptology through the groundbreaking work of Tadeusz Smoleński at the Archaeological Museum in Krakow.


    The Archaeological Museum in Krakow is currently hosting an exhibition, “In the Footsteps of Polish Pioneers in the Study of Ancient Egypt,” highlighting the contributions of early 20th-century Polish Egyptologist Tadeusz Smoleński. Professor Andrzej Urbanik, co-creator of the exhibit, emphasizes that Smoleński’s groundbreaking work allowed Poland to establish a presence in the field even during the period of foreign partitions.

    The display, featuring panels and original Egyptian artifacts from the museum’s collection, showcases the profiles of Polish pioneers in the scientific exploration of ancient Egypt. One focal point is dedicated to Krakow native Tadeusz Smoleński (1884-1909), highlighting original prints of his works.

    “Smoleński, initially a student of history, found himself in Egypt by chance, seeking treatment for tuberculosis. Discovered by prominent Egyptologist Gaston Maspero, he was entrusted with leading an archaeological expedition—a groundbreaking moment as a Polish researcher took charge of studies on ancient Egypt,” explained Prof. Andrzej Urbanik.

    The exhibition underscores how Smoleński’s work elevated Krakow’s status in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, fostering collaboration with the Vienna Academy of Sciences. The successors of Smoleński continued joint Polish-Austrian expeditions until World War I, enriching Krakow’s Archaeological Museum with numerous artifacts.

    Among the exhibits are fragments of mummy bandages, figurines, sculptures, and various amulets. A noteworthy aspect is the collection’s origin, as a significant part was brought to Krakow by soldiers of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade, a unit of Anders’ Army, during WWII in the Middle East.

    Additionally, the museum boasts Poland’s largest collection of sarcophagi and mummies. Prof. Urbanik, a pioneer in applying radiological studies to mummies, also contributes to the exhibition, showcasing the intersection of radiology and Egyptology.

    The exhibition, titled “In the Footsteps of Polish Pioneers in the Study of Ancient Egypt,” is open to the public at the Archaeological Museum in Krakow on Poselska Street 3. Accompanying the exhibit is a scientific conference, “Rediscovering Egypt,” scheduled for December 14, 2023.

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