Pignoria, Lorenzo (1571-1631).
Mensa Isiaca, qua sacrorum apud Aegyptios ratio & simulacra subjectis tabulis aeneis simul exhibentur & explicantur. Accessit ejusdem authoris de Magna Deum matre discursus, & sigillorum, gemmarum, amuletorum aliquot figurae & earundem ex Kirchero Chisletioque interpretatio. Nec non Jacobi Philippi Tomasini Manus Aenea, & de vita rebusque Pignorij dissertatio. Amsterdam, Andreas Fries, 1669.
Two parts in one volume, 4° (238x187 mm). Collation: *4, **1, A-N4, O2; [π]4, [a]-[n]4. , 96, ; , 96 [i.e. 94] pages. Roman and italic type. Extra engraved title-page, executed by A. Blothelingh (included in the foliation). Eleven engraved folding plates. Three engraved title-vignettes, nine full-page illustrations, and additional vignettes and other illustrations in the text. Contemporary vellum. Spine gilt tooled, title in gold on lettering-piece. Front hinge slightly opened. A very good copy.
Provenance: J. H. Harrison (ex-libris on the front pastedown).
Third and best edition of the Mensa Isiaca by the Paduan antiquarian Pignoria, the first scholarly work on Egyptology, which first appeared in Venice in 1605, under the title Vetustissimae tabulae aeneae sacris Aegyptiorum.
The 'Mensa Isiaca' or the table of Isis was an elaborate bronze table with enamel and silver inlay discovered in the ruins of the Temple of Isis after the Sack of Rome in 1527; it may have been executed – as Pignoria himself suggests – in Rome in the first century AD.
The table was then bought by Cardinal Pietro Bembo (it is also known as the 'Bembine Table'); after his death in 1547 the table was acquired by the Gonzagas, remaining in their collections until the capture of Mantua in 1630. The table of Isis eventually came into the hands of Cardinal Pava, who gave it to the Duke of Savoy, who then presented it to the King of Sardinia. In 1797 the tablet was carried in Paris by French troops, and in 1809 – as Alexandre Lenoir attests – it was exhibited in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Later, it returned to Turin, and is now held at the Egyptian Museum of this city.
In the seventeenth century the table of Isis became one of the most famous Egyptian artifacts known: it was used by the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher as a primary source for deciphering hieroglyphs, and an illustration showing the table was included in his Oedypus Aegyptiacus (1652/55).
The effective function of the 'Mensa Isiaca' is still subject to debate, although Pignoria's explanation was the simplest and most convincing: he believed it was a representation of sacrificial ceremonies according to Egyptian rites.
The 1669 edition is supplemented with numerous illustrations in the text which had been executed e Musaeo Bembi in 1559 by the Parma engraver Aeneas Vico (1523-1567).
Blackmer 1312; Gay 1567; Ibrahim-Hilmy II, 119; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 213.