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Mummy exhibits unveiled at new Cairo museum

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-04-21 08:18
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Visitors look at exhibits in the Royal Mummies Hall at Cairo's new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, which opened to the public on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]

With its dark walls and dimly-lit open rooms, the crypt-like Royal Mummies Hall at Cairo's new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization opened to visitors for the first time on Sunday, displaying 20 mummies of ancient Egyptian kings and queens.

The mummies were among 22 transferred earlier in April from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo to the NMEC in a remarkable parade.

The opening of the magnificent mummies hall coincided with International Day for Monuments and Sites, also known as World Heritage Day.

"We have planned to open the Royal Mummies Hall on World Heritage Day after restoration of the mummies," says Fayrouz Fekry Selim, deputy director for management and operation of the museum.

"The visitor turnout today is high. Three Germans were the first to tour the Royal Mummies Hall after its opening," Selim adds, noting that the museum has received more than 150,000 visitors since its inauguration by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on April 3.

The mummies belonged to 18 kings and four queens that ruled ancient Egypt over 3,000 years ago.

The Royal Mummies Hall is located beneath the Main Hall of the museum, and can be reached by a stairway at the entrance of the Main Hall.

Once inside, visitors can follow the direction arrows on the floor to go through the passages and see all the mummies, most of which are displayed next to the coffins they were found in.

The first mummy that visitors will encounter is that of King Seqenenre Taa II, followed by those of Queen Ahmose Nefertari, King Amenhotep I, King Thutmose I, King Thutmose II, Queen Hatshepsut, King Thutmose III, King Amenhotep II and King Thutmose IV.

The rest of the mummies include those of King Ramses II and Queen Tiye, both of which still amazingly have hair as they had been preserved in good conditions.

"It was beautiful and very impressive to see all those mummies from such a long time ago together in one area," says Judith Adriaanse, from the Netherlands, after visiting the Royal Mummies Hall.

She adds that she has been working in Egypt for six months and will bring her parents to visit the museum soon.

Another Dutch visitor Thomas was amazed by the conditions of the mummies.

"They all have pretty nice, fair white teeth," says the young man with a smile. "We've only heard about the names of those pharaohs, but it's pretty cool to see all of them in one place."

Though there were 22 mummies moved to the NMEC, the Royal Mummies Hall is currently only displaying 20. Mahrous el-Sanadidy, a senior curator at the museum, says the last two mummies will be rotated with the other mummy exhibits.

"The area of the Royal Mummies Hall is 850 square meters. It exhibits 20 mummies, 12 coffins and some special belongings of Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV," explains el-Sanadidy, emphasizing that the royal mummies are the pride of the new museum.

The NMEC's foundation stone was laid in 2002 and its temporary exhibition hall opened in 2017 through joint efforts of UNESCO and the Egyptian government.

The total area of the museum is approximately 138,600 sq m. The Main Hall, with an area of about 2,000 sq m, exhibits artifacts from prehistoric times to the Pharaonic dynasties, the Islamic and Coptic eras, and modern-day Egypt.

"What I saw is unbelievable," says Mohamed Saada, a senior architecture student, after visiting the mummies hall. "It really makes me feel proud being Egyptian."

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