28 November 2014 – 22 March 2015

Exhibition curators: mgr Kamila Dolata-Goszcz, mgr Łukasz Bartkowiak

Our temporary exhibition “Verba volant, scripta manent. The ancient writing systems” is an attempt to present ancient ways of recording information on the basis of outstanding archaeological finds from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. These territories, however, are not the only regions of the world referred to at the exhibition. Photographs, reconstructions of artefacts, and education spots will broaden the visitor’s knowledge about pre-Columbian, Indian, Chinese, Semitic, as well as central and northern European systems of writing. At the entrance, the display explores  religious beliefs concerning the legendary inventors of writing, and presents mnemonic devices, such as counter tokens, tally sticks and knot strings called qipu. The ovarall aim of the exhibition is to show that writing, one of the greatest inventions of humanity, evolved independently in different cultures, in various forms and methods of communication. The Latin saying contained in the title of the exhibition “Verba volant, scripta manent” (words fly away, writing remains) aims to underlie the meaning of writing as an important medium of knowledge, history and culture.

The exhibition presents nearly 100 objects from the collections of the National Museum in Warsaw, the National Museum in Poznań, the Archaeological Museum in Cracow, Jagiellonian University, and the Poznań Archaeological Museum. They include Egyptian and classical stelae, papyruses covered with hieroglyphs and demotic script, inscribed ushebti, a fragment of Pali canon, bricks from Babylon with cuneiform inscriptions, and many other interesting items. The oldest artefact on show is so called “Gudea’s nail”, the object inscribed with a commemorative text addressed to god Ningirsu on the occasion of renewal of his temple Eninnu in Lagash. Dating back to the 22th century BC, this is probably the oldest cuneiform text held in the museum collections in our country.

The exhibition is addressed to all those interested in the history of ancient writing. In particular, we invite school children, who will have a perfect opportunity to complement their curriculum knowledge. In addition, we have prepared museum workshops, which will introduce the participants to the secrets of the oldest writing systems.