When you plan a visit to the Austrian National Library in the Hofburg palace, make sure to include the Papyrus Museum in your must-see list. Even if you are not a fan or a student of Egyptian history, the astounding collection housed in the library located in the Neue Burg wing will still capture your interest. Started from the private collection of Austrian Archduke Rainer during the 19th century, the museum is devoted to the preserved written heritage of the Egyptians and houses a portion of the massive Papyrus Collection.
The Papyrus Collection numbers to about 180,000 objects and is considered as one of the largest in the world. It was named into the UNESCO list of “Memory of the World” in 2001 and the Papyrus Museum displays about 200 of the ancient writings dating between 15th century BCE and 16th century CE. Visitors can get a glimpse into the traditions and rituals of ancient Egyptians from the array of exhibitions in the museum.
The artefacts delve on subjects such as medicine, music, religion and magic (which almost often were interrelated) and the Egyptians’ fascination for death. Aside from papyri, other ancient writing materials and media are also on display – these include parchments, writers’ palettes and ostraca, shards of ceramic pot with inscriptions. There is also a collection of written testimonies from other cultures that have influenced Egypt throughout history including the Greeks, Assyrians and Hebrews. Some notable items include a piece of a choral ode from “Orestes” the Greek tragedy penned by Euripides.