An unprecedented procession will take place in the Egyptian capital on Saturday, during which 22 mummies of kings and queens from ancient Egypt will be transferred from the Cairo Museum to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC). The “Parade of the Pharaohs” is scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm local time (5:00 pm in Lisbon). In chronological order, 18 kings and four queens, each in their own carriage, leave the museum where they have been for more than a century and move to a new home.
The drive to the huge modern building, which was built in recent years in the south of Cairo and is due to open in mid-April, takes around 40 minutes under high police surveillance. The Pharaoh Seqenenre Taa (16th century BC) from the 17th dynasty opened the parade led by Ramses IX. (3rd century BC) It is concluded from the 20th dynasty. The event will be accompanied by musical performances that will be broadcast live on television.
Most of the 22 mummies discovered near Luxor (south) from 1881 onwards have not left the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square in central Cairo since the beginning of the 20th century. Since the 1950s, they have been exhibited side by side in a small room with no clear museum explanations.
The mummies are transported in a pack of nitrogen under conditions similar to those in the exhibition boxes, and the carts are equipped with shock-absorbing mechanisms. In the new museum, they will be kept in more modern boxes “for better control of temperature and humidity”, said the agency France Presse Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University of Cairo, specialist in mummification.
They are presented next to their sarcophagi in a decoration similar to the underground tombs, along with a biography and, in some cases, their scans. “For the first time, the mummies are beautifully presented for educational purposes,” Egyptian Egyptologist Zahi Hawass told AFP, adding that their macabre character has historically excluded several visitors.
After years of instability following the 2011 popular uprising that hit a heavy blow to tourism, Egypt is trying to attract visitors by promoting the NMEC, or the Great Egyptian Museum (GEM) near the Giza Pyramids, which is in the future to be opened months.
The GEM receives the pharaonic collections from the Cairo Museum, including the famous treasure of King Tutankhamun (14th century BC). The young king’s grave, discovered in 1922, hid numerous objects made of gold, alabaster or ivory in addition to his mummy. And why don’t all mummies stay in GEM? “GEM has King Tutankhamun, the star. If the (other) mummies are not accepted into the NMEC, no one will go there, ”replied Hawass.