The Egyptian section of the Museo del Sannio, located at the ARCOS museum, collects the finds coming from the temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, “Lady of Benevento”.
The itinerary is arranged in several rooms and traces an ideal trip to the temple, starting from an “initiation” to the cult of the goddess, continuing in the area in front of the temple and finally ending in the sacred area where is the actual cell of the goddess. The Temple of Isis was built by the Emperor Domitian between 88 and 89 A.D. with materials coming directly from Egypt, peculiarity that made Benevento the place in the West keeping the highest concentration of original Egyptian artifacts, mostly statues. In Benevento, in fact, there was one of the most important temples of Isis of the Roman Empire.
The quantity and quality of the Nilotic findings discovered, largely in 1903, testify to the presence of an out of character sanctuary. Unlike the others temples of Isis in Italy, this is the only one in the pharaonic style as well as the only pharaonic temple in Europe. According to the hypothesis advanced by the German scholar W. Muller the sanctuaries in Benevento were even three: a Hellenistic-Roman temple dating back to the first century BC., to which the light marble statues supposedly belong; a second temple in the pharaonic style, wanted by Domitian, and a third smaller temple dedicated to the cult of Osiris Canopus. An avenue lined with sphinxes and statues of Horus-hawk (pictured below), Thot-baboon, goddess worshippers, priests and priestesses performing pharaonic cults, led to the temple which, however, was never identified. In 1826 the famous linguist Champollion translated the hieroglyphs on the two twin obelisks of Benevento that report the foundation of the temple by the legate Marco Rutilio Lupo. One pink granite obelisk is located in Piazza Papiniano, along Corso Garibaldi, the other (the four facades tell the same story) is displayed at the Museo del Sannio and has been restored, in exchange for the loan of some artifacts, by the experts from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, for an exhibition held in March 2018.
Even now it is not possible to identify the place where the temple of Isis was located, but it was certainly one of the most important places of worship in the South, active for centuries until at least the Edict of Thessalonica (380 AD).