If you’re a sucker for museums full of ancient artifacts, you need to go to The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Egypt’s ancient history is fascinating with deep-seeded cultural traditions, ingenious architectural wonders, and interesting theological ideas.
The building is more than a century old. It was built when archeologists had compiled thousands of artifacts and needed a place to put them on display. With 42 rooms on the first floor, 47 on the second, and a vast atrium, it still only uncovers a small portion of the greatness and intricacy of ancient Egypt.
A single visit can’t possibly encompass the beauty and greatness of the culture and history held there, so you’ll want to take a guided tour
to highlight the best parts and the attached history. If you’re going on your own, don’t miss the best exhibits, including the following:
1. King Tutankhamun’s Mask and Treasures
Perhaps that biggest draw to the Egyptian Museum is the treasures taken from King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Often called King Tut, the boy king has been a popular part of Egyptian history because he took the throne at around eight years old after his father, Akhenaten, died. He only lived until around 19, and during his life, he was not able to produce an heir. He was the last of a long family reign during the 18th dynasty.
But Tut is most famous
because of his incredible tomb, discovered during the excavation of the Valley of the Kings around 1922. It was one of the most intact tombs every found. They emerged with 5,398 items, most of which are on display at the Egyptian Museum.
The most famous artifact is his mask, a solid gold and lapis likeness that’s perhaps the most recognized Egyptian artifact in the world. He was also buried in a solid gold sarcophagus.
You can also see a collection of beautiful, intricately carved wood, gold, or stone canes. Tut suffered from many illnesses including a club foot, so he had many caves that were carved with Egyptian enemies of the time.
2. Mummy Room
You must be interested in the idea of mummies
, and the best place to go to satisfy that curiosity is the Mummy Room. It costs extra to get in, but it will be well worth the visit as you get to see 27 mummies on display at a time.
Each mummy is displayed in a temperature-controlled case. Pictures don’t do the real site justice. It’s amazing how well-preserved the bodies are, some still containing fingernails, teeth, and hair.
The mummy on display that has survived best is Ramses II. This famous king was on the throne for 67 years and is believed to have fathered more than a hundred children. You can still see his long white hair and yellow teeth, testifying to his age at death.
3. Narmer Palette
In his book The History of Ancient Egypt
, American Egyptologist Bob Brier calls the Narmer Palette or the Palette of Narmer the “first historical document in the world.” Historians date the large stones covered in hieroglyphics to the 31st century BC.
The details carved into these stones are exquisite, and they depict a story of two nations unifying when Upper and Lower Egypt formed an alliance and became one. The stones are incredibly well preserved and are a history-nut’s dream to see.
4. Statues of the Pyramid Pharaohs
It was very common for Pharaohs who ruled for a long period to have a statue erected in their honor. Many of these statues were discovered in fragments, but others were found fully intact, and they’re on display at the Egyptian Museum. The most notable statues are likenesses of the pharaohs behind the great pyramids.
You’ll see the Statue of Khufu, the pharaoh who reigned for 63 years during the first dynasty. He oversaw the building of the greatest pyramid in Giza.
There’s also the Statue of Khafra of the fourth dynasty. He’s the son of Khufu and built the Khafra Pyramid at Giza. Some believe that he commissioned the Great Sphinx of Giza as well.
There’s also a statue depicting Khufu’s grandson, Menkaure/Menkaura/Mykerinos/or Menkheres (the spelling varies). The smallest pyramid of Giza was built in his honor.
There are other amazing statues, like the Ka-Aper Statue made of sycamore rather than stone, and a statue of the dwarf king, Seneb. It’s truly remarkable to stand among such in-depth history and culture.