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Egyptian artifacts to be exhibited in Shanghai

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-19 07:44
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A mummy's coffin from the Egyptian Museum is unpacked at Shanghai Museum on Monday. The coffin, unearthed from the Egyptian burial site of Saqqara, will be among 788 ancient Egyptian cultural relics to be displayed during an exhibition at Shanghai Museum. Most of the relics will be exhibited for the first time in Asia. The exhibition on the ancient Egyptian civilization will open on July 18 and run through Aug 17 next year. LIU YING/XINHUA

More than 700 artifacts from Egypt arrived in Shanghai on Sunday for an exhibition at the Shanghai Museum, with over 95 percent to go on display for the first time in Asia.

The exhibition, On Top of the Pyramid: The Civilization of Ancient Egypt, will open on July 18 and feature an unparalleled array of ancient Egyptian artifacts, from statues of pharaohs to gold jewelry. With 788 objects curated from the collections of seven museums and institutions in Egypt, alongside recent archaeological discoveries that have never been shown to the public, the exhibition marks a new chapter for cultural exchanges between China and Egypt.

Two highlights of the exhibition were unpacked at the museum, located on People's Square, on Monday.

One was a statue of Akhenaten from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Made of sandstone and standing 239 centimeters high, it dates back to 1550-1295 BC. It is a unique statue of the pharaoh, according to Said Ebrahim Alassal, an archaeologist at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Akhenaten was the father of Tutankhamen, and famous for his religious reforms promoting Aten, the sun disc, as the supreme deity.

"We have many artifacts being exhibited around the world, but this exhibition at the Shanghai Museum is the biggest one," he said.

Also unpacked was a human-shaped coffin unearthed from the Saqqara site.

Ruins of a temple dedicated to Bastet dating back to 600 BC were unearthed in Saqqara, 30 kilometers south of Cairo, in 2020. About 1,000 human-shaped coffins were found in the catacombs of Saqqara, and they will provide new material for the study of ancient Egyptian burial rituals.

The exhibition in Shanghai will be the first systematic showcasing of archaeological findings from the Saqqara site, whose excavation was listed among the top 10 archaeological revelations of 2020.

Chu Xiaobo, director of the Shanghai Museum, said it will spend the next month preparing the exhibition.

The museum announced on Tuesday that 200,000 early bird tickets for the exhibition have been sold out.

A six-member team from the museum flew to Egypt for the logging and packing of the artifacts.

Zhao Chenchang, deputy director of the museum's conservation department, said some large and heavy artifacts had to be handled with lifting equipment, and the process, witnessed by tourists, attracted a lot of attention on social media platforms.

The 788 artifacts, packed into 90 crates, were flown to Shanghai on a chartered flight.

Li Junfeng contributed to this story.

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