In 1982, in the 400th year of the second founding of the Julius Maximilian University Würzburg, Alexander Kiseleff (1919–2002) donated a large part of his private collection of Greek and Egyptian antiquities to the University of Würzburg, eventually bequeathing the rest of the collection to the university in his will. Today, the Kiseleff collection is part of the collection of antiquities in the Martin von Wagner Museum. Kiseleffs’s focus was on amulets and jewellery. It also includes high-quality vessels, sculptures, reliefs, fragments of Coptic textiles, funerary cones, and a few written testimonies. The catalogue presents the entire collection of Aegyptiaca from four millennia in full colour illustrations for the first time.
That Alexander Kiseleff gave his collection to Würzburg is thanks to Karl-Theodor Zauzich, the professor of Egyptology in Würzburg from 1981 to 2004. Both knew each other from Berlin, where Kiseleff lived and Zauzich worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Egyptian Museum from 1973 to 1980. The collector regularly sought advice from the museum’s Egyptologists. One afternoon in autumn 1980, Zauzich and Kiseleff met by chance on the street near Charlottenburg Palace. The Egyptologist already knew about the collector’s plans, according to which he wanted to donate his collection to a a museum and was looking for one that would accept the donation on his terms. Zauzich, who had already received his call to the Würzburg chair, approached him about this on this very afternoon and invited him to a cup of coffee, which Zauzich later described as one of his best investments.
Although Zauzich had immediately begun to work together with a team of specialists on the collection scientifically in Würzburg to publish a catalogue of holdings, as promised in the foundation agreement, the present volume can fullfil the promise only now. The Kiseleff Collection is noteworthy in many respects: first, because of its diversity of object genres, types or materials. Numerous pieces are of special scientific interest, and only a few objects are not authentic. It is particularly beneficial for students, as they can gain direct access to the material culture of ancient Egypt. In addition, the study of the history of the collection and the collector offers an excellent opportunity to examine the collecting practices and motivations of a German private collector as a case study to make a contribution to archaeological provenance research.
Stadler, Martin Andreas, born 1973, studied Egyptology, Classical Archaeology and History in Würzburg and Oxford, doctorate in 2002 and habilitation in 2007 in Würzburg, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Würzburg since 2011. His research focuses on Egyptian religion as manifested in particular in evidence from the 1st millennium BCE and the Roman period in Egypt.
Zauzich, Karl-Theodor, 1939–2021, studied Egyptology and Classics in Leipzig and Mainz, doctorate in Mainz 1966, habilitation in Berlin 1980, Professor of Egyptology in Mainz in 1980 and in Würzburg from 1981 to 2004. Zauzich was primarily concerned with the Demotic script and language, Demotic texts from Elephantine and Soknopaiu Nesos, the origin of the alphabet and traces of Egyptian religion in the Hebrew Bible.