Can't connect right now! retry
world
Sunday Apr 04 2021
By
AFP

Egypt's pharaohs move to new home in 'Golden Parade' via capital Cairo

By
AFP
A parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies — including the carriage (C) carrying the mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I (1525-1504 BC) — advances through Tahrir Square after departing from the Egyptian Museum to their new resting place at the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in Cairo, Egypt, April 3, 2021. AFP/Mahmoud Khaled

CAIRO: The mummified remains of almost two dozen famed pharaohs — including Egypt's most powerful ancient queen — have been moved to a new home in a "Golden Parade" of floats that attracted hundreds in the country's capital.

The eye-catching procession, dubbed the "Pharaohs' Golden Parade", had hefty security for a mere seven kilometres to across the capital, Cairo, from the iconic Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation — their new resting place.

The "Pharaohs' Golden Parade" comprised 18 kings and four queens in order — oldest first — and each aboard a separate vehicle decorated in ancient Egyptian style. Pedestrians and vehicles were barred from Egypt's celebrated Tahrir Square, the site of the current museum, and other sections of the route.

A golden sarcophagus is exhibited at Egypt's new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) during its official reopening in the Fustat district of Old Cairo, Egypt, April 4, 2021. AFP/Mahmoud Khaled

Images of the slick parade and an equally carefully choreographed opening ceremony were broadcast live on state television to rousing music.

The mummies entered the grounds of the new museum to a 21-gun salute after a slightly shorter-than-expected journey time of around half an hour.

"This grandiose spectacle is further proof of the greatness... of a unique civilisation that extends into the depths of history," said President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi just ahead of proceedings.

A parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies advances through Tahrir Square after departing from the Egyptian Museum to their new resting place at the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in Cairo, Egypt, April 3, 2021. AFP/Mahmoud Khaled

Seqenenre Tao II, "the Brave" — who reigned over southern Egypt some 1,600 years before Christ — was on the first chariot, while Ramses IX, who reigned in the 12th century BC, brought up the rear.

Another great warrior, Ramses II, who ruled for 67 years, and Queen Hatshepsut, the most powerful female pharaoh, were also on the short voyage.

Emblazoned with the name of their allocated sovereign, the gold and black coloured carriages were fitted with shock absorbers for the trip, to ensure none of the precious cargoes were accidentally disturbed by uneven surfaces.

'Upgraded cases'

Discovered near Luxor from 1881 onwards, fascinating new details of the pharaohs' lives — and deaths — continue emerging.

A high-tech study of Seqenenre Tao II, involving CT scans and 3D images of his hands and long-studied skull fractures, indicate he was likely killed in an execution ceremony, after being captured in battle.

For their procession through Cairo's streets, the mummies were placed in special containers filled with nitrogen, under conditions similar to their regular display cases.

A performer dressed in ancient Egyptian costume uses his phone to take a selfie after the end of a parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies advanced through Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, April 3, 2021. AFP/Mahmoud Khaled

The National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in the Fustat district of Old Cairo consists of sleek, low-rise buildings topped with a pyramid amid expansive grounds.

The mummies will undergo 15 days of laboratory restoration before they are showcased individually in their new home, in an environment redolent of underground tombs.

Related: All you need to know about Pharaohs' Golden Parade in Egypt

They will be accompanied by a brief biography.

In their new home, they will occupy "slightly upgraded cases", Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, said.

Temperature and humidity control will also be enhanced.

People watch and film as they stand along the Cairo corniche by the Nile river as the carriage carriage carrying the mummy of Queen Tiye — wife of Amenhotep III (1386-1349 BC or 1388-1350 BC) — approaches while on its way during a parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies through Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, April 3, 2021. AFP/Tarek Wajeh

The "museum has what it takes to preserve (mummies), the best laboratories... it is one of the best museums we have," Waleed el-Batoutti, an adviser to the tourism and antiquities ministry, told state television.

'Curse of the Pharaoh'

The National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation opened its doors to limited exhibits from 2017 and will open fully on Sunday before the mummies go on display to the general public two weeks later.

In the coming months, the country is due to inaugurate another new showcase — the Grand Egyptian Museum — near the Giza pyramids.

It too will house pharaonic collections, including the celebrated treasure of Tutankhamun.

People stand around and photograph charioteer performers riding along Tahrir Square after the end of the parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies that advanced through Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, April 3, 2021. AFP/Mahmoud Khaled

Discovered in 1922, the tomb of the young ruler, who took the throne briefly in the 14th century BC, contained treasures including gold and ivory. A so-called "curse of the pharaoh" emerged in the wake of Tutankhamun's unearthing in 1922-23.

A key funder of the dig, Lord Carnarvon, died of blood poisoning months after the tomb was opened, while an early visitor likewise died abruptly in 1923.

Read more: 32 dead, several injured as two trains collide in Egypt's Tahta city

With the parade coming only days after several disasters struck Egypt, some inevitably speculated on social media about a new curse provoked by the latest move.

The past days have seen a deadly rail collision and a building collapse in Cairo, while global headlines were dominated by the struggle to refloat the giant container ship MV Ever Given which blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week.

Performers dressed in ancient Egyptian costume at the end of a parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies advanced through Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, April 3, 2021. AFP/Mahmoud Khaled

The mummies' re-housing "marks the end of much work to improve their conservation and exhibition," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, who was in Cairo for the parade.

"This raises emotions that go much further than the mere relocation of a collection — we will see the history of Egyptian civilisation unfold before our eyes."