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The Egyptian Museum


The Egyptian Museum




The Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum








About the Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian museum, which is located in Cairo at Tahrir Square, is regarded as one of the most important museums and cultural archives in the world, for it hosts the world's most extensive collection of discovered Pharaonic antiquities, a rare collection of five thousand years old art. Around 2,500,000 visitors visit the museum annually. The museum was inaugurated on November 15th 1902 adopting a neo-classical style. It has one hundred and seven halls, which have been divided chronologically into sections, and which the remains of many famous pharaohs are stored among, more than 100,000 pieces of ancient Egyptian antiquities and items are showcased in the museum. Other names for the Egyptian Museum are the Cairo Museum, the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, and officially the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. The museum was established by the Egyptian government in 1835, in an attempt to limit the looting of antiquities and artifacts in their sites, also the excavations and discoveries urged the need to construct a museum to house all the discovered monuments and artifacts.


View of an other side of the base of the obelisk of Rameses II, from the Temple of Horus in Athribis.


The Cairo museum has two main floors, the ground floor and the upper floor. The ground floor displays an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the Ancient world; several languages are found on those papyrus including Greek, Latin, Arabic, and hieroglyphs, the ancient Egyptian language. The coins are made of metals including gold, silver, and bronze, they're Islam, Egypt, Greek, and Roman. Such facts helped historians research the history of ancient Egyptian trade. There are also artifacts from the New Kingdom (1550 B.C-1069 B.C). The forty two rooms on this floor contain King Akhnaten's collection, big statues, including a large collection of goddes Hathor's statues, objects belonging to the fourth, fifth, and sixth dynasties, a Greco-Roman collection referred to the Greco-Roman era, a bed painted with thin layers of gold, sculptures of royal and private statues, royal statues like those belonging to Middle and New Kingdoms of XII, XVIII, XIX dynasties found in Karnak, Ashmunein, and Abusir, family group statues, scribes, false doors, stelae, a temporary exhibition for Islamic doors and other Islamic and pharaonic monuments, and Alexander the great's head and a collection of statues belonging to the Greek era; the floor has corridors containing wooden statues, ancient pieces of wall's stones, and an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the ancient world.

For the the upper or first floor which contains forty seven rooms, it displays artifacts from the final two dynasties of Ancient Egypt, and a collection of golden pieces, Tutankhamun's Golden Mask, a collection of royal ancient Egyptian jewelry pieces, small statues, tombs, glass work, golden coffins, some royal chairs, and a cart, and artifacts from the final two dynasties of ancient Egypt, including items from the tombs of the pharaohs Thutmosis III, Thutmosis IV, Amenophis II, Hatshepsut, and the courtier Maiherpri, and artifacts from the Valley of the Kings.

Being selective is necessary for the visit, it's said if you were to spend one minute on each item, it would take you nine months to complete the Egyptian Museum tour. The museum offers facilities like a bank, a cafeteria, a clinic, a post office, an ambulance, a book shop, a library, toilets, a check room, information Kiosk, lectures room, Tourist Police office, and the Museum Friends Society.





Sections of the Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum is divided chronologically into sections:

Section 1: The treasures and collections of king Tutankhamun, the ancient Egyptian jewelery, the treasure of the royal tomes of Tanis, and the royal mummies.

Section 2: The prehistory/pre-dynasty period, the archaic period, and The Old Kingdom monuments.

Section 3: The first intermediate period, the Middle Kingdom monuments, the second intermediate period, gods and goddesses (according to ancient Egyptian beliefs) of ancient Egyptian civilization, and daily life cosmetics, toilet articles, musical instruments, agricultural tools, toys, and games.

Section 4: The New Kingdom, Amarna period, ancient Egyptian papyrus, Ostraca.

Section 5: The late period, and the Greco-Roman period.

Section 6: Papyrus of ancient Egyptian civilization and Greco-Roman period, and bronze coins of Greco-Roman period.

Section 7: Scarabs, ostraca, and coffins or sarcophagi of the kings and the priestess of Amun.

There's also a photography section and the Royal Mummy Hall which is on the first floor, for the latter, its entrance is located at a corner, and it displays eleven kings and queens, including the newly discovered mummy of Queen Hatshepsut; they're kept in temperature and pressure controlled glass cabinets. The hall requires entrance fee, and taking photos are not allowed inside. An adjacent room, which is free to enter, has an assortment of mummified animals.





The Golden Mask of Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, his exhibit is the most famous exhibit in the Egyptian museum, and also is a major highlight in it. The most popular and known pieces in the Egyptian museum is his burial golden mask, it's the most famous pieces in his treasures. At the mask's forehead, there's a representation of vulture and a cobra,  on the side and back of the mask, there are inscriptions said to be of protection magic spells, the mask is located in room three on the upper floor. It weighs eleven kilograms (which is equivalent to twenty four and a half pounds) of solid gold, inlaid with lapis lazuli, carnelian, quartz, obsidian, turquoise, and colored glass. The mask was rested over the bandages that were wrapped around the king's face; it's believed that it represents what the king's face looked like. Displayed artifacts of the exhibit include the golden funerary mask and sarcophagus, four huge gilded boxes that fit inside each other, and ancient trumpet , thrones, and a royal toilet seat.

The burial mask of Tutankhamun

The tomb of king Tutankhamun was discovered by Howard Carter, an English archaeologist and Egyptologist, in nineteen twenty two, it took him about ten years to finish excavating the tomb. Unlike many tombs discovered in Egypt, his tomb was found mostly intact, for there had been at least to robberies of the tomb. A large collection of artifacts of over three thousand and five hundred artifacts, which were used througout the king's life, was found inside his tomb. These artifacts included a decorated chest, two ivory and gold bracelets, necklaces, decorative jewelry, alabaster vases, flasks, weapons, and instruments. The discovery of young Tutankhamun's tomb was one of the most important finds in history.

Funerary chapel found in Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Funerary chapel found in Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
It's made of wood and decorated with gold.


Tutankhamun's wooden chest from his tomb.
Tutankhamun's wooden chest from his tomb.

Exhibitions of artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun have appeared in many countries in the nineteen sixties; the artifacts were among the most traveled in the world. 





The Dahshur Boats

The Dahshur boats or de Morgan boats were discovered in summer in May and June of 1894 in excavations by Jean-Jacques de Morgan, a French archaeologist, and also who was the General of Antiquities in Egypt, in an archaeological site outside the mud-brick pyramid at Dahshur, specifically at the funerary complex of Senwosret III, who's an ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdome pharaoh. His publication of the excavations (Fouilles à Dâhchour, 1895) came at a time when archaeology was still developing as a science. The discovery revealed great finds including five Dahshur boats, several caches of jewels, and golden grave goods. 

Today, only four of the Dahshur boats are made public, two are displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the other two are in the United States of America. One of the Dahshur boats which is in the U.S.A is located in the Carnegie Museum of National History in Pittsburgh, and the other is in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The 4,000 year old boat from the Middle Kingdom provide a rare and unique opportunity to study contemporaneous hulls in nautical archaeology, and contribute to a better understanding of ancient ships and the societies that built them. 

Dahshur Boat
A Dahshur boat in the Egyptian museum. For more photos, click here.

In the Egyptian museum, there are only two Dahshur boats known by their GC (General Catalogue) numbers of 4925 and 4926. The whereabouts of the fifth Dahshur boat remains a mystery, it's been assumed to have been exported to a museum in Europe, or to be still in sands at Dahshur. Yet, evidence of charring on one of the Dahshur boats suggests that it may have been lost to fire. Decorations such as eye of Horus, or Udjat, was present, ancient Egyptians believed that the presence of Horus protects them, and that he'll watch over the pharaoh, and accompany him in his journey to the afterlife. Also papyrus and lotus representations symbolizing the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt are common to all four boats. It's not known for sure who owned the boats. Several sledges were found next to Dahshur boats. From Egyptian iconography, such sledges were used to transport boats over land. The boats were well executed and practical, despite their appearance.

Ancient Egyptians believed that when they die they'll be in another life, they prepared for that by providing resources and goods in their graves including jewelry, furniture, clothes, knives, spoons, plates, cosmetics, ornaments, statues and tools. They paid vast amounts of money to have their bodies properly preserved - trained undertakers treated the body with chemicals and wrapped it in tight bandages to keep it in shape. Those vessels are assumed to be intended to accompany them to the hereafter, such boats refer to the importance of watercraft in their culture and their renowned civilization. They evidence for their role as funerary craft in style, function, and shape, as they mirror Middle Kingdom ceremonial model boats with papyriform (having the form of, or decorated with papyrus flower) shape, white decks, red beams, and either green or yellow hulls.

The archaeologist made drawings and measurements of only one boat, the white one. Consistency of measurement was found in the Dahshur boats' hulls. A standard system of measurement was employed in the design and execution of the boats: the Egyptian cubit (which is equal to 52 cm), palm, and digit. Each of the Dahshur boats is 10.22 meters long, 2.26 meters wide, and 0.86 meter deep.They were constructed with methods including mortise-and-tenon joints, dovetail fastenings, and fitted hull planking. Concerning what the boats were constructed with, it was of thick cedar timber. The Dahshur boats were extremely durable and would have endured hardship from continuous use.





The Egyptian Museum's Library

The library of the Egyptian museum was established in 1902, it's one of the largest and most important libraries in the world that specializes in ancient Egyptian civilization, it's being under the supervision of the Highest Council of Monuments. The library contains about forty two thousand and five hundred books, magazines, periodicals in many languages, and other media regarding the Egyptian civilization. 

The library is not open for the general public, and reading inside the library is permitted for a select group of  accredited researchers and scholars. Borrowing is permitted for researchers and students of the Highest Council of Monuments.





The Children's LEGO Exhibition

A children's LEGO exhibition at the Egyptian Museum has been inaugurated. It's located in the basement of the Egyptian Museum, and it can be reached from the west side of the museum. 

A LEGO replica of a statue of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in the Children's Museum exhibit.
A LEGO replica of a statue of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in the Children's Museum exhibit.

The exhibit's divided into different areas that depict different aspects of ancient Egyptian life, it also includes a small workshop area where children can use their brainpower imaginations to design and construct LEGO structures and shapes of their own creationsSix rooms are filled with objects that aim to attract children's attention, rendering the visit educationally complete. The young visitors to the museum can participate in a fun and educational workshop after their visit, and read. Children may have myriad imaginative possibilities to explore in by playing and constructing with LEGO bricks, which are cubes of plastic.

Sixteen LEGO models from the exhibition 'Secrets of the Pharaohs' are part of the children's museum. About 502,836 LEGO blocks make up the sixteen models on display, which took approximately 2,430 hours to construct. The museum contains LEGO models displayed alongside authentic ancient Egyptian antiquities, sculptures, and artifacts.

a LEGO model of a funerary bed from ancient Egypt
A LEGO model of a funerary bed from ancient Egypt.

The collection includes a model of the mask of Tutankhamun, the boy pharaoh, a statue of Ramses II, Isis, Osiris, a mummy and embalming equipment, a scribe, a sphinx, a model of sculpting, and the pyramids. Those represent various aspects of ancient Egyptian life in the museum, and create a more exciting display for children visitors. The exhibition also features writing, daily life, religion, and pyramid building in ancient Egypt, and also death an the hereafter to ancient Egyptians.

A LEGO model of an ancient Egyptian boat.
A LEGO model of an ancient Egyptian boat.

The children's museum educates the children about the heritage of ancient Egypt. It's equipped to welcome handicapped, visually impaired, and hearing impaired youth, thus fostering cultural awareness for future generations.

The purpose of the exhibition is to educate children about ancient Egypt's history, art, and heritage. Also to encourage them to know more about them. The manner of using LEGO blocks simplifies those to them, and helps them understand it easily, by visualizing how the statues originally looked like. It also helps them become creative and interactive. There's a library in this museum, its books cover a wide range of topics on ancient Egypt and other ancient civilizations.

The children's museum is a permanent exhibit in the Egyptian museum, and it's due to the cooperation between The Egyptian Museum and LEGO Group in Denmark. The Royal Danish Embassy in Egypt facilitated the transport of the LEGO models from Denmark to Egypt. The LEGO models of ancient Egypt constitute an integral part of the children's museum.

As a result of the efforts put in the museum, children love the antiquities more, and they're eager to learn about history. Those children are likely to be able to preserve the antiquities and the heritage of Egypt in the future.






The Grand Egyptian Museum

The Grand Egyptian Museum


The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which is also known as Giza Museum, is currently described as one of the largest archaeological museum development projects and the biggest cultural project in the world. It's being built as the new national museum of Egypt, and its new headquarters lies adjacent to the Cairo-Alexandria Road, it's scheduled to be inaugurated in 2015,
The project is commissioned by the Ministry of Antiquities (supreme council of Antiquities). The new archaeological museum will occupy a prestigious site that's approximately 2 kilometers (or about a mile) west of the legendary ancient Giza Pyramids, overlooking their plateau on the outskirts of Cairo at Al-Remayah Square, thus constructing a dialectic relationship between past and present.


The location of The Grand Egyptian Museum.
The location of The Grand Egyptian Museum.


This new museum was planned from the start to be the biggest museum of Egyptology in the world and an international center of Egyptology, as by housing one of the greatest and most ancient collection of humanities' treasures. The future project has been planned to be an international center of communication between museums. For the Giza plateau, Memphis, and its Necropolis contain irreplaceable historical monuments, they're nominated by UNESCO among the World Cultural Heritage Sites.

The new iconic building is to house the Egyptian artifacts as a replacement for the actual Cairo Museum. The need for a new bigger edifice has been urged, since the old overcrowded Egyptian Museum has an annual increase in visitors (around 2,500,00 visitors visit it annually). Currently the Egyptian museum is rendered with limited space and limited facility for future visitors.

The design of the Grand Egyptian Museum approaches the establishment of continuity between ancient and contemporary Egyptian culture through a lens of a modern architectural language. One of the most superb features of the new museum will be a translucent stone wall, 800m long. Separately from the building, the wall will rise to 40m in places, allowing visitors to explore the sheltered space behind. It'll be Illuminated by the dramatic lighting schemes of the main building, and the wall will add a striking night-time effect to the view of the desert landscape. The thematic exhibits will shed light on several aspects of daily Ancient Egyptian life, like their music, religion, crafts, games, their social scene and cultural practices.


About The Grand Egyptian Museum


Due to the fact that the museum is very important for the preservation of Egypt's heritage, the Grand Egyptian Museum is a priority to Egypt and its people. The museum is envisaged as a cultural complex of activities devoted to Egyptology, given the global interest in Pharaonic history, people everywhere are eagerly anticipating the arrival of this new cultural destination.

 

Visitors:

An increase of 30% in tourism in Egypt is expected after the opening of The Grand Egyptian Museum. According to The Grand Egyptian Museum Feasibility Study, approximately 5 million tourists will visit The Museum and the Pyramids annually, with an average of 15,000 tourists a day. Visitors are expected to reach from five to eight million annually just two years after the museum’s inauguration. Another expectation suggests that the estimated number of tourists will be 8 million by the year 2020.


Expenditure:

The project of building the Grand Egyptian Museum will cost an estimated $550 million, of which $100 million will come from Egypt and the remaining $150 million will be funded by local and international grants. It's mainly financed through a Japanese loan of US$300 million, of which $130 million has already been spent. By the addition, the contract value is of US$ 810,000,000 (+/- EUR 635 million).


The Project


Area & Capacity:

The terraced building was designed to accommodate up to 15,000 visitors a day, and will be built on a land plot that's about 480,000 square meters of area. Furthermore, the site will contain 24,000m² of permanent exhibition space, an area of almost four football fields in size.


Inclusions:

The main design of 'The Grand Egyptian Museum' starts with The Grand Egyptian Museum Conference Center, which includes a main auditorium hall designed to accommodate about a thousand seats, to house conference presentations, and cater for theatrical performances and concerts, a large shaded courtyard is connected to it. The main auditorium is complemented by several seminar rooms, business meeting rooms, a multi-purpose hall suitable for a variety of events, and an open space gallery for accompanying exhibitions. Also the museum is targeted to be a public cultural facility with a group of recreational parks, and an esplanade. A pedestrian that starts at The Grand Egyptian Museum site and extends 2.5 kilometers to the Pyramids Plateau and a three story car parking structure are to be located withing the site of the project.

Nearby auxiliary and support buildings will include a commercial or business zone, a variety of retail shops and food and beverage services located at the ground floor level as an attraction point to all visitors upon entering and leaving the museum galleries, ticketing facilities, and other services. Three restaurants are intended to be opened in the premises of The Grand Egyptian Museum and a 3D auditorium.

On a separate part of the site, laboratories for scientific researches, a large conservation resources and energy center; which will house special laboratories for cleaning, cataloging, and restoring artifacts; educational facilities, photography, a data bank, an Egyptology library for fulfilling the needs of researchers, a Crafts Center for reviving the neglected arts and crafts have been planned to be established with the Grand Egyptian Museum. There will be a training center, workshops similar to the old Pharaonic places, and a children's museum for fostering cultural awareness for future generations to encourage them to learn about their heritage. A main structure made with translucent alabaster stone wall, a large atrium for ancient Egyptian artifacts, and statues like the 3,200-year-old Ramesses II will be included as well. More fertile areas on the north east edge of the site are planned for an amusement park, it's organized as a series of irrigated terraces through which visitors will move as they ascend the escarpment.


Design Glimpse:

The area of the plateau is developed as a desert park. The museum is screened from the dust, the heat, and the wind of the environment by densely planted oases of palm trees.
The sheltering roof and entry portico are related to long standing traditions in the architecture of the region of providing protection from the extreme climate. The grid of columns that hold this roof can be understood as analogous to the sheltering palm trees of an oasis.

The elements of the building reinterpret forms and strategies from the history of Egyptian architecture in contemporary terms. A few examples are: The structural column grid with skylight and ventilation devices that are related to the typology of the hypostyle hall and ancient column capitals. The central stepped ramp can be understood as a restatement of the sequence of the Mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the circular court with its palm trees and pool can be related to the sacred lake in the temple complex of Dendera.


It's planned that visitors with car shall park outside of the site, and visitors will ride electric cars to the pyramids.


The electric cars.
A new electric car being tested at Giza.


In that way, monuments can be protected from harmful effects of automobile traffic, and visiting the site can be more enjoyable to tourists. Visitors will be able to see the site without being bothered by people offering horse and camel rides.

A new visitor center in front of the third pyramid is being worked on, which will provide a good introduction to the site, and have a fun educational experiences for children.


Phases of the project


Phase I:
-The scope of enabling works to the GEM site.

Phase II:
Conservation and energy centre (CEC) with a total area of 18,000 m². The scope of Phase II is the construction of the following: 

-Conservation center.
-Conservation plant.
-Main energy centre (shell + core).
-Fire station.
-Adjacent section of main service and artifacts tunnel (15-30m beyond conservation center).
-Conservation center service yard.
-Associated landscaping and necessary modifications to perimeter road.

Phase III:
The scope of Phase III is the construction of the following: 

-Main building (museum and conference center).
-Manager’s residence.
-Fit-out of main energy center.
-Completion of tunnels between Phase II and the main building.
-Restaurants.
-Site structures outside the boundary of Phase II.
-Landscaping, site work, and infrastructure outside the boundary of Phase II.


Aims, goals, objectives

The aim is to attract three million visitors a year, and to keep the Pharaonic monuments, artifacts, and thousands of Ancient Egyptian objects in new larger facilities which were stored in warehouses and cannot be properly displayed to the public due to the lack of space in other museums. 

Also of the purposes of building the museum is to prevent further damages, preserve monuments and artifacts, and maintain them for the future. It was designed to provide an Egyptology center of excellence for the next 100 years. It's targeted that the visitor experiences going back in time and navigate through the history of ancient Egypt in over the past 7,000 years.


The competition

Like many new extreme forms of architecture, Giza’s planned Grand Egyptian Museum was the outcome of a competition. The organizers of the project received more than a thousand and five hundred entries when they announced an international architectural design competition initiated by the ministry of culture in the very early years of the third millennium for building the museum, particularly on January 7th 2002, making it the largest architectural competition in history.

Architects from 83 different countries entered the competition with 1557 designs. Heneghan Peng Architects from Ireland were unanimously chosen as the winner in July 2003. An international team of 300 engineers representing Egypt, Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and Canada joins them.


Treasures, artifacts, monuments, and antiquities

Artifacts and monuments are to be shown in a complex of world class museums. The new grand Egyptian museum is to home ancient Egyptian monuments, treasures, of over a hundred thousand artifacts, three thousand and five hundred of the artifacts belong to the famous boy king, Tutankhamun, which will be the highlight of the visit, though a large number of Egyptian artifacts from every period in history will see the light of day after being in storage facilities for decades.

10,000 objects were transferred to the GEM from archaeological galleries all over Egypt and before the opening of the museum, the other 80,000 objects will be transferred.


Expectations

The Grand Egyptian Museum is expected to let Egypt become a major worldwide hub for Pharaonic history and a must-visit place for Egyptologist, to others it could be like a portal to the past. It's thought to be Egypt's next best thing and much more attractive than the existing museum.

You can see pictures of how the Grand Egyptian Museum is envisioned in the following hyperlink:

 Designs and Visions of the New Grand Egyptian Museum


 



Notes

  • A tour guide is helpful for a tour to the Egyptian museum, and a book from the gift shop can be useful and cheaper.
  • Taking photos is prohibited inside the main museum, but it's allowed to do so in the annex of the LEGO exhibition.
  • Have some cash with you, you might want to buy from the gift shop or cafeteria. 
  • The Mummy Room requires fees to enter.
  • You can receive an admission discount, if you an international student ID.





Conclusion

The Egyptian museum is one of the busiest and most crowd places in Cairo, it's not to be missed, and it's a good place for families to visit and to discover the ancient civilization of Egypt.