In Cairo, a day before President Obama arrives to deliver his most important speech to the entire Arab World, the Egyptian museum opens a grand exhibition.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) inaugurated a photo exhibition dubbed Europe-Egypt: A long-lasting Archaeological Cooperation in Hall 44 at the Egyptian Museum marking continued efforts with the European Union in promoting and preserving archeology.
Under the auspices of Farouk Hosni, the Egyptian minister of culture, the event was launched before the press and dignitaries at the gardens of the Egyptian museum across the specified hall. Hawass explains the exhibition will highlight formidable cooperation between Egypt and Europe in the field of archaeology since the early 19th century until today.
The SCA chair also added the exhibition redraws in image some of the joint projects undertaken by European and Egyptian researchers. It displays about 40 pictures presented by 16 European countries and organized around six subjects illustrating the main aspects of European activities in the field of archaeology including excavations, restoration, training, cooperation and valuation. The committee staged the exhibition together with the delegation of the European Commission in Egypt, the European embassies and institutes.
Built in 1835 by the government, the Egyptian Museum is home to mummies and remains of a huge number of pharaohs of from the 18 to the 20th Dynasty found in Thebes. The first group found in Deir el Bahari (Queen Hatchepsut’s site) cache include the mummies of Seqenenre, Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Tuthmosis I, Tuthmosis II, Tuthmosis III, Seti I, Ramses II, Ramses III. The other group, found in the tomb of Amenhotep II includes the mummies of King Amenhotep II, Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III, Merenptah, Seti II, Siptah, Ramses IV, Ramses V, Ramses VI, and remains of three women and a child. This museum showcases over 120000 objects; some of the most remarkable pieces include the artifacts from the tombs of kings and members of the royal families of the Middle Kingdom found at Dahshur in 1894.The contents of the royal tombs of Tuthmosis III, Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III and Horemheb and the tomb of Yuya and Thuya. Artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun, with more than 3500 treasures total left about half – 1700 objects displayed in the museum. The rest are in storerooms around Egypt. Objects from some royal and private tombs at Tanis (in the Delta) dating from the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, artifacts from the Amarna period made for Akhenaton and members of his family and some high officials, found in Tell el Amarna, Hermopolis, Thebes and Memphis between 1912 and 1933 are also available at this museum. Furthermore, collections of artifacts from the royal palaces have also found their way to the old museum.
In 1900, the Egyptian Museum was remodeled into a neo-classical style by a famous French architect. To date, it has housed pre-dynastic finds to Graeco-Roman period artifacts. Since opening, millions of tourists visit the museum – a must-see in any Cairo tour.
To some degree however, this museum almost overflows with treasures (as it overflows with visitors) that the halls are now too cramped. Enlarging the display areas previously available has been an important step in lessening precious clutter. In the last few years, more room has been opened up to accommodate new finds and newly-retrieved treasures coming from within and without Egypt.
However, 400 archaeological pieces recovered from Switzerland were moved to the Egyptian Museum upon the decision by the Cairo Criminal Court. The pieces, smuggled through Switzerland, made their way to the Egyptian museum. Swiss authorities approved handing over the monuments to Egyptian authorities after General Prosecutor Maher Abdel-Wahid demanded their speedy return. All of 11,298 kilograms, the treasures include among others a mummy of the falcon-shaped god Horus, a pure-gold human mask, a statue of god Ptah, Roman gods of love and a wooden sarcophagus with a mummy of an ancient Egyptian.
Despite the lack of space at the museum, Hawass opened the photo show before Obama’s landing, in honor of the strong collaboration between Egypt and Europe in preserving archaeology and celebrating successful excavation missions through the years.