Józef Łepkowski, Towarzystwo Naukowe Krakowskie i kielecka kolekcja starożytności Tomasza Zielińskiego

Joachim Śliwa


Józef Łepkowski (1826–1894), in 1866 founder of the first Prehistoric Archeology Department at the Cracow University, also established the Archeological Room (1968), the predecessor of the present Museum of the Jagiellonian University. However, much earlier Łepkowski had become an active cooperator of the Cracow Scientific Society (in 1847), and since 1852 he had been its member. In the years 1858 and 1861 he held the position of the Secretary of the Archeology and Fine Arts Department, in the years 1862–1870 he was its vice – chairman. One of the issues he paid a lot of attention to was the protection of archeological and historical monuments, providing proper means and facilities and ensuring the fact that they would be used in scientific research, and later as educational material at university. Fulfilling his task, in 1859 Łepkowski found himself in Kielce where he was to compile a catalogue of the archeological part of Tomasz Zieliński’s collection. Tomasz Zieliński, an eminent collector of art, died in 1858. The catalogue entitled The Collection of Late Tomasz Zieliński in Kielce. The Antiquities Department, written by Łepkowski, was published in print already in 1860. The oriental and classical antiquities (pp. 1–6) include 16 items (part II, much more numerous, encompasses “Pagan and Slavic Antiquities”). The information included in this catalogue constitutes an important source which is very useful in reconstructing the history of some of the ancient monuments, or establishing their provenience. It turned out that some of the objects had been passed to Zieliński’s collection from the collection of Michał Sołtyk (1742–1815). What is more, sometimes the circumstances in which they were found or purchased are described. Łepkowski persuaded Duke Władysław Czartoryski to buy a considerable number of the ancient objects from Zieliński’s collection and after some time (1871–1872) he acquired most of them as Duke’s gift for the University Archeological Room (now the collection of the Faculty of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University). Thanks to Łepkowski’s catalogue, published in 1860, four Egyptian objects have been identified (a granite statuette, a bronze figurine of Osiris, an ushabti figurine, a lime stele from the period of the New Kingdom of Egypt) and a marble relief with the image of Attis, not to mention some other objects of a lesser display significance (e.g. olive lamps).