Magnificent Museum of Egypt!
We have travelled all over this amazing country and have learned so much in such a short period of time. What better way to consolidate our learning than to visit the celebrated Museum of Egypt (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities )!
The museum is spectacular! It is bright with tall ceilings and lots of space for the thousands of people who were also interested in learning more about antiquities.
There are over 120, 000 artifacts from all over the country that highlight the ancient civilization, their accomplishments and their stories. We had one day to explore – but we could have easily spent weeks looking at everything! (I would highly recommend a guide as artifact information in English is inconsistent.)
With so many artifacts to focus on – we decided to share our “Top Five List” and what we really enjoyed learning about. This list is in no particular order – just a highlight of some of the incredible artifacts and stories. (Please note – most of the artifacts are behind glass, so many of the photos show reflection….we did our best!).
1. Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone was the key to translating all the incredible hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians. There are three languages on the stone – the top two are ancient Egyptian – while the third is ancient Greek. The Greek text allowed scholars to translate and discover the stories of the past. It is the only replica in the Museum of Egypt…sadly, the English have the original Rosetta Stone in the British Museum.
2. Narmer Palette
The Narmer Palette commemorates the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt led by King Menes (3407 BC – 3346 BC) who was known as Narmer. The two sides of the palette tell the story of the battles to unify the North and South under his leadership. Narmer ruled for 62 years and founded Memphis as the capital of ancient Egypt. Narmer met a sad end when he was trampled to death by a hippopotamus! The Narmer Palette identified King Menes to historians and the palette is so valuable, it isn’t allowed to be taken out of Egypt.
3. Akhenaten (1353 BC – 1336 BC)
Akhenaten began his reign as Pharaoh with the name Amenhotep IV, but soon changed it to Akhenaten which means “He who is of service to the Aten“. He ruled for 17 years and was married to many women, including Queen Nefertiti. Akhenaten decided to change the religion of Egypt to worship one god, Aten, and defaced monuments to Amun, and even his father’s name (Amenhotep III) because it had “Amun” in it. After his death, other pharaohs tried to erase his existence because of his “unorthodox” and “heretic” views. It’s not known why he wanted to be depicted as his statues are in the museum, some think it’s to represent the male/female form of humanity. Akhenaten also built part of the Temple of Karnak.
4. King Tutankhamun (1332 BC – 1323 BC)
Almost the entire second floor of the museum is dedicated to the treasures found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. It is a spectacular collection of artifacts; I still can’t believe the small tomb we visited in the Valley of the Kings held all of these treasures. Here are a couple of photos to show how the treasures were found.
King Tutankhamun was a son of Akhenaten and came to power at the age of 9. He ruled for 8-9 years, but didn’t really accomplish a lot during his reign; his advisors were the ones to reestablish the worship of the traditional Egyptian gods. Tutankhamun died at the age of 19, most likely from gangrene infection in his broken leg; he also had malaria and needed a cane to walk. There was a theory that he was killed by a blow to the head from an enemy due to damage in his skull, however a scan showed that the damage was caused by improper handling of his mummy.
This was a special part of the museum for all of us because when Oliver and I were back in elementary school (1979) we were both able to visit the King Tut collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario and loved it! Furthermore, 30 years later Mikhaila and Zoe saw the collection at the AGO in 2009, but what we saw on the second floor was way beyond what we saw at the travelling exhibition!
There was a special secure room where we were unable to take photos – of course this is where the golden mask was displayed. Trust me – just the mask is worth the visit to the Egypt and the museum…it is beyond words!
Outside of the secure room there were incredible treasures all around us! The sarcophagus was found inside a number of golden tombs – similar to Russian nesting dolls – which started with a large gold and turquoise tomb and then smaller ones inside – finally the sarcophagus was found!
Inside the tomb were the Canopic Jars that held all of King Tutankhamun’s internal organs.
There was tonnes of elaborate furniture and even his golden throne! The collection is beyond belief…there could be a blog post just on the treasures found in his tomb! Go see it!!
5. The Mummy Room
Finally, we have to share about the mummies. For an extra cost, we went to visit the ancient Egyptian mummy room. Again, we were unable to take photos, but just seeing how they preserved the bodies of the pharaohs is just unbelievable. Some of them still had hair, teeth, fingernails etc…I can only hope I look that good in three thousand years!
At least, I was able to capture photos of pictures of the process.
Luckily, we were able to take photos of some of the animal mummies and everyday people. These mummies were not as well preserved as the pharaohs, but at least it’s an idea.
Overall, it was an incredible day of learning at the Museum – it’s a must for all who are interested in Egyptology, Science, History etc… To see such incredible artifacts from thousands of years ago was a great way to complete our trip. But the day at the museum has also made us want to return even more, especially since a new museum is being opened in a matter of weeks! Let me know when your trip is booked and we’ll see if we can join you!