The Egyptian Museum in Cairo truly is a gem, even if I is already over 100 years old. We took a tour of the Egyptian Museum on one of our first mornings in Egypt and it was a great way to set the stage for two weeks of Egyptian history. The entire museum is original pieces (more than 120,000 items) dating back thousands of years and the only replica in the whole building is the Rosetta Stone, the real one in London at the British Museum and the Brits won’t give it up.
Walking around the ground floor we learned so much about Egyptian history just looking at the statues; for instance. Only kings who ruled 30 years or more is allowed to be shown with a beard (two exceptions). Or that if the statues with the king with the left foot forward (made while still alive) and if hands crossed over chest like a mummy (made after they died). The oldest piece we saw was a limestone statue that was 4,700 years old and was made life size so it helps historians learn about the people of the time. No all of the statues were rock though, there were a few made of wood, specifically sycamore tree wood. The statue was not of a ruler, but rather a mayor, and the rock crystal eyes which makes it look alive.
The piece we learned about hieroglyphics did not make as much sense at the time but given the number of temples we saw, it began to make much more sense. We learned that the way you read hieroglyphics is dependent on which way the birds are facing. If they are facing towards the right, then read them right to left but if the birds are facing left, read left to write. The only exception is that if the hieroglyphics are in a column, the only way to read them is down.
The second floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is primarily dedicated to King Tutankhamen (who you likely know as King Tut). Even though he was a relatively insignificant pharaoh – he was king at 9, was married at 11, and died at only 18. However, the reason nearly the entire floor is dedicated to him is because it was the only tomb in the Valley of the Kings that they found unrobbed. Having seen the actual space, it was very small, but they were able to squeeze 3,500 pieces in the tomb – many of which are now in the Egyptian Museum. Below you can see some of the tombs (teal and gold) where there were six, stacked like Russian nesting dolls. I King Tut, he was king at 9, Married at 11, died at 18. And as I was not allowed to take a picture (and actually listened) you can see a picture of this very impressive mask here, found by Howard Carter in 1925 and is 18kg of pure gold.
I would highly suggest a visit but note, they are building a new Egyptian Museum, called the Grand Egyptian Museum, next to the pyramids in Giza and it’s opening in Q4 of 2020 and it already has a Wikipedia page.
Would you visit the Egyptian Museum?