|Cairo Egyptian Museum : Description |
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum, in Cairo, Egypt, is home to the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storerooms. The museum's Royal Mummy Room, containing 27 royal mummies from pharaonic times, was closed on the orders of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. It was reopened, with a slightly curtailed display of New Kingdom kings and queens in 1985.
There are two main floors of the museum, the ground floor and the first floor. On the ground floor visitors will find an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the Ancient world. The numerous pieces of papyrus are generally small fragments, due to their decay over the past two millennia. Several languages are found on these pieces, including Greek, Latin, Arabic, and the Ancient Egyptian writing language of hieroglyphs. The coins found on this floor are made of many different elements, including gold, silver, and bronze. The coins are not only Egyptian, but also Greek, Roman, and Islamic, which has helped historians research the history of Ancient Egyptian trade. Also on the ground floor are artifacts from the New Kingdom, the time period between 1550 and 1070 BC. These artifacts are generally larger than items created in earlier centuries. Those items include statues, tables, and coffins. If visitors follow these displays in chronological order they will end up on the first floor, which contains artifacts from the final two dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Some artifacts in this area include items from the tombs of the Pharaohs Tuhtmosis III, Tuhtmosis IV, Amenophis II, Hatshepsut, and Maherpen, and also many artifacts taken from the legendary Valley of the Kings.
The majority of the world has come to know the tomb of King Tutankhamun better than any royal tombs because unlike the others, it was found mostly intact. Inside the tomb you will find a large collection of artifacts used throughout the King's life. These artifacts range from a decorated chest, which was most likely used as a closet or suitcase, to ivory and gold bracelets, necklaces, and other decorative jewelry, to alabaster vases and flasks. The tomb is also home to many weapons and instruments used by the King. Although the tomb holds over 3,500 artifacts, it should be noted that this tomb was not found completely intact. In fact, there have been at least two robberies of the tomb, perhaps soon after Tutankhamun's burial. The most well known artifact in King Tutankhamun's tomb is the famous Gold Mask, which rests over the bandages that wrap around the King's face. The mask weighs in at 24 pounds of solid gold, and is believed to represent what the King's face really looked like. Many features of the mask the eyes, nose, lips and chin are all represented in a youthful way.
The remains of many famous Pharaohs are stored in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. One of these is Pharaoh Ramses III, who was an extremely skilled warrior. His army was very impressive, as it has been duplicated and copied all over the world. For many of the mummified pharaohs, it has been very difficult to determine when they were born. Also, historians can only estimate a time when they reigned over Egypt. For Amenhotep IV, historians have estimated that he reigned around 1372 B.C. They knew this because they found out when Amenhotep IV's father, Amenhotep III died. Also, that Amenhotep IV's tomb inscribed five names he gave himself and one of them, Golden Horus, proves that he was crowned on the bank of the Nile, his father's favorite domain. Before he even became pharaoh, however, he was already married to Nefertiti, a radiant beauty. But, when Amenhotep IV did become pharaoh, he destroyed the religion of Amun. He did this because he wanted start his own new religion of Aten, the disc which sent out rays ending in hands. King Snofru was believed to be the first king of the Fourth Dynasty. The year Snofru was believed to have start reigning over Egypt was around 2620 B.C. Snofru is believed to be a fair and just king. Master of Justice or of Truth was his other choice name. Snofru, like many other kings, built many temples and structures. All of Snofru's structures and buildings had a signature. His signature was having a statue of a woman symbolizing the foundation. The statue of the young women is presenting the sign of life and votive offerings, as well as the signs of the city and the stronghold. There are about four or five of these in each province. A lot of the pharaohs had coronation names and they all seemed to be a like. For example, Snofru, Tut, and Amenhotep all had name Golden Horus.
The Present Egyptian Museum
More than 150,000 are currently displayed in the museum. The ground floor displays are basically arranged chronologically, starting from the Dynasty 0 and ending with the Graeco-Roman Period. The organization runs from left to right (west to east). The first floor is arranged thematically, or by tomb group. Assemblages from the tomb of the youthful king Tutankhamen, Yuya and Tuya, Meket-re, the treasures of Tanis, as well as coffins, mummies, and Fayum portraits can be found there.
Protodynastic and Archaic Period (ca.3000-2670 B.C)
The Protodynastic Period, when Egypt was struggling for unification, describes Dynasty 0. The term "Archaic Period" is used to cover the Dynasties I and II. The most famous object from this early period displayed here is the Palette of Narmer. King Narmer, identified with king Menes, united Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt into one kingdom, establishing the first royal family, and establishing Memphis (the white wall) as the new capital. (Corr.43)
Old Kingdom (ca.2670-2195 B.C)
The term "Old Kingdom" designated the period from Dynasties III to VI. This period is also called the "Pyramid Age" where the kings' tombs took the form of a pyramid. The most notable objects on display from this period are: the limestone statue of king Djoser, the owner of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara; three schist triads of king 'Menkaure' who built the third pyramid at Giza (Corr.47); a statue of king 'Khafre', builder of the second pyramid and the Sphinx at Giza (Room 42); statues of prince 'Rahotep' and his wife 'Nofret' (Room 32). The contents of the tomb of queen Hetepheres, the mother of king Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid at Giza, and a statuette of Khufu, the only complete image identified for that king until today is also found here (Room 37).
Middle Kingdom (ca.2065-1781 B.C)
Dynasties XI to XIII made up the Middle Kingdom. King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep, the founder of the Dynasty XI, reunited Egypt in one kingdom after the collapse of the Old Kingdom and the subsequent fragmentation of the country that had lasted for almost 143 years. The most famous displayed objects of this period are: a statue of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep; the sarcophagus of the vizier 'Daggi' (corr.26); sarcophagi of Mentuhotep's female family members (area 48); funerary chamber of 'Horhotep', surrounded by ten statues of king Senusert I of Dynasty XII (1971B.C; Room 22); a group of black granite sphinxes of King Amenemhet III (1842 B.C; corr.16); Meket-re's models (Room 27).
New Kingdom (ca.1550-1075 B.C)
The New Kingdom includes Dynasties XVIII to XX. This was Egypt's Age of Empire when it became the dominant power in the Mediterranean world, with its control stretching from Iraq in the north, to the fourth cataract in the Sudan to the south. The most famous displayed objects from this time are: head of a statue of Queen Hatshepsut (1490 B.C); painted plaster sphinx of Queen Hatshepsut who declared herself pharaoh of Egypt and dressed in male attire (Corr.11); chapel of the cow-goddess 'Hathor', constructed by Thutmosis III at Deir el-Bahri in western Thebes (Luxor); standing statue of Thutmosis III who is considered the greatest military king of ancient Egypt (Room 12); rose granite sphinx of Queen Hatshepsut (Corr.6). The end of this period is represented by objects from the Ramesside Period: state of Ramesses II and Horun (Room 10); Merit-Amun's statue (room 15).
Amarna Period (Religion Revolution Period) (ca.1365 B.C)
King Akhenaton of the Eighteenth Dynasty led a religion revolution, close to monotheism. He said: there was only one major god, represented by the sun disk 'Aten', and shut down many of the temples dedicated to the state god, Amun. He established a new capital at Tell el-Amarna, where he could worship his god. The most famous displayed objects are the colossal statues of king Akhenaton from Karnak, an unfinished head of the beautiful queen Nefertiti, fragments of paving from Tell al-Amarna, different statues of Akhenaton and his family, and the Amarna Letters (Room 3).
Late Period (ca.1075-342 B.C)
The term 'Late Period' designates Dynasties XXIII-XXX. This period is the last period of the ancient Egyptian civilization before Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 B.C. His conquest was followed by the Ptolemaic Period which ended in 30 BC with the death of Cleopatra VII and Egypt's conquest by Rome. Thereafter
Egypt became a Roman province.
King Tutankhamen's Collection (ca.1350 B.C)
The tomb of this young king was discovered in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor in 1922. It was the only royal tomb, which escaped from tomb robbers. About 3500 pieces were found here. Most of the objects were made of gilded wood, inlaid with semi-precious stones, and others were made of solid gold. The contents and splendor of this young king's tomb amazed and awed the whole world. (Corr.45, 40,35,30,25, 20,15,10, 9,8,7 and room no.3)
The Ancient Egyptian Jewelry Room
Significant groups of jewels were found in the tombs of royalty and nobility. This room contains a selected group of precious jewels and gold items such as diadem, necklaces, golden bracelets, pectorals, pendants, amulets, belts, and more, from different periods of Egyptian history (Room 4).
The Treasure of the Royal Tombs of Tanis (ca.1070-712 B.C.)
Most of these treasures came from the royal tombs of Dynasties XXI and XXII at Tanis (East Delta), discovered by P. Montet in 1939. The most spectacular impressive of the objects are: the golden mask and the silver coffin of the king Psusennes I (Room 2).
Fayum Portraits (ca.100-250 AD)
These Roman period mummy portraits were called 'Fayum Portraits' because the first collection was discovered in Fayum Oasis, south of Cairo. These portraits were a development of the ancient Egyptian funerary mask. The portraits were painted in encaustic: pigments mixed into molten wax. (Room 14).
Room of the Gods
A collection of ancient Egyptian divinities made of various materials are displayed here (Room 19).
Collections of papyrus and ostraka (inscribed pieces of limestone or pottery) are kept in these rooms (Rooms 29 and 24).
Objects relating to toilette, music, dancing, cooking, agriculture, amusement, and crafts are kept in Room 34. Room 44 contains architectural elements.
The tomb of Yuya and Tuya
The tomb was discovered in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank at Luxor in 1905.They are parents of queen 'Tiy' (grandmother of king Tutankhamen). Prior to the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, this collection was the most important in the museum. It includes furniture, masks, coffins, and vessels (hall 43).
Predynastic and Archaic
Objects from the earliest time of Egyptian history are kept in Rooms 54, 55, and 42. The most significant objects include fragments of the Palermo Stone, the funerary stelae of Egypt's first kings, and ceramic vessels.
Middle Kingdom Funerary Objects
Several coffins and two troops of the ancient Egyptian army (bowmen and infantry) from the tomb of 'Mesehti' at Assiut, Dynasty XI (Room 37).
Room of the Models (ca.2000 B.C.)
Ancient miniature representations of daily-life activities are contained in this room (Room 27). The highlights are Meketre's models (Dynasty XI-XII), which include different activities and buildings from his estate.
A collection of royal mummies reburied in a tomb at Deir el-Baheri (DB 320) and from the Valley of the Kings (KV 35) are kept in Room 56 (and 52 in the future). The kings include Ramesses II, V, VI, Seti I, Sequenenre Tao, Merenptah, Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep I.
Mummies and images of animals are kept in Room 53. This illustrates the different relationships that the Egyptians had with the natural world around them.
Coffins of kings and priests of Amon
A great group of coffins with different shapes of the kings and priests of Amon were found at Deir El-Bahri and in the tomb of king Amenhotep II at the Valley of the Kings at Luxor.
(Corr.47, 41, 36, 31, 26, 21, 16, 11).
|Cairo Egyptian Museum : History |
The Egyptian Museum is considered to be one of the first buildings in the world to be specially designed and constructed for use as a museum, rather than being converted for this purpose. This was meant to collect the greatest artifacts of the ancient Egyptian civilization in the world. In 1798, the French Scientific Mission, that accompanied the military expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte, studied and recorded all aspects of the ancient monuments of Egypt. The series of books, the ‘Description de l ' Egypte' was one of the outstanding products of this mission. Its publication spurred widespread interest in ancient Egyptian antiquities. The trade in ancient Egyptian artifacts began, and large collections of antiquities were shipped to the great European cities.
Important Dates in the History of the Egyptian Museum
Mohammad Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt was determined to stop the trade in Egyptian antiquities, and , for the first time kept them in a small building in the Azbakiya Garden, where they were conserved and displayed suitably. It was called later Azbakiya Garden Museum
After Mohammad Ali's death, the trade in antiquities began again and his successors presented some of the Azbakiya Garden collection as prestigious gifts to important guests. Finally, all the contents of the Azbakiya Museum were transferred to a single hall in the Ministry of Education within the citadel of Saladin, which was called later the Citadel Museum.
The Viceroy of Egypt presented all the contents of the Citadel Museum to the Austrian Archduke Maximilian when he visited Egypt and admired the collection.
The French Egyptologist, Auguste Mariette, managed to select a building on the bank of the Nile at Bulaq to be a museum for ancient Egyptian antiquities. All of this work was done with the support of the Viceroy of Egypt, Said Pasha. The Bulaq Museum was opened during the reign of Khedive Ismail Pasha in 1863.
A torrential inundation of the Nile damaged the Bulaq Museum, and it had to be closed.
The Bulaq Museum was reopened again after restoration. However, from this time onward it was regarded as a temporary home for the objects.
The entire collection of the Bulaq Museum was transferred to an annex of Khedive Ismail's palace at Giza, which served as a new home for the museum, the Giza Museum. As a result of continued excavations and the subsequent increase in the number of antiquities needing to be housed in a museum, Egyptologists insisted on the importance of selecting a permanent site for a new, larger museum.
The first of April 1897
The laying of the foundation stone for the Egyptian museum at Midan Al-Tahrir held in the presence of Abbas Hilmi II and the Egyptologist, Gaston Maspero.
9/3/1902 till 13/7/1902
The entire contents of the Giza Museum were transferred to the present Egyptian museum at Midan Al-Tahrir.
15 November 1902 : The Official Opening of the Present Egyptian Museum
Egypt's dream of having a purpose-built museum for its artifacts was realized on 15 November, 4 p.m, on a Saturday afternoon. The building work was inaugurated by Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. The French architect Marcel Dourgnon constructed the museum in the neo-classical style. The building took four years and eight months to be constructed. Its total area measures about 15,000 square meters, and cost about L.E 240,000; it was meant to display about 50,000 objects.
The New Egyptian Museum Project
Due to the continual increase in objects due to excavation, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities has taken a major step to establish a new museum on a site about 480,000 square meters, located near the Giza pyramids. The present museum will remain in Tahrir Square, and will exhibit about 5000 masterpieces.