Highlights of the Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities contains many important pieces of ancient Egyptian history. It houses the world’s most extensive collection of Pharaonic antiquities. The Egyptian government established the museum, built in 1835 near the Ezbekeyah Garden and later moved to the Cairo Citadel.
Highlights of the Egyptian Museum
- Narmer Palette
- The Narmer Palette is a significant Egyptian archaeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC. It contains some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. The tablet depicts the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under King Narmer and provides one of the earliest known depictions of an Egyptian king. The Palette shows many of the ancient conventions of Ancient Egyptian art, which means that this art form must already have been formalised by the time of the Palette’s creation. The 5,000-year-old Narmer Palette is one of the first historical document in the world.
- Tutankhamun’s Mask
- Tutankhamun’s mask is the funerary mask of Tutankhamun the 18th-dynasty Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh who reigned 1332–1323 BC. It was discovered by Howard Carter in 1925 and is now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This mask is one of the most well-known works of art in the world. Tutankhamun’s burial chamber was found in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 and opened three years later. It would be another two years before the excavation team, led by the English archaeologist Howard Carter, was able to open the massive sarcophagus containing Tutankhamun’s mummy. On 28 October 1925, they opened the innermost of three coffins to reveal the gold mask, seen by people for the first time in about 3,250 years.
- Merneptah Stele
- The text glorifies King Merneptah’s victories over the Libyans and their Sea People allies. It also describes a separate campaign in Canaan which was then part of Egypt’s imperial possessions. The last two lines mention a campaign in Canaan, where Merneptah says he defeated and destroyed many ethnic groups including Israel. The Merneptah Stele is sometimes referred to as the “Israel Stela” because a majority of scholars translate a set of hieroglyphs on the stele as “Israel.” The stela represents the earliest surviving text referring to Israel, and it is the only reference from ancient Egypt. It is one of four known inscriptions that mention Israel and date to the time of ancient Israel and is thus of unique historical importance.
- Colossal Statues of Akhenaten
- This Statues of Akhenaten depicts the pharaoh, also known as Amenophis IV or Amenhotep IV, in a distorted representation of the human form. Akhenaten is represented with a distorted physique not present elsewhere in the artwork of Ancient Egypt. He is portrayed with exaggerated facial features, such as a long nose, hanging chin and thick lips. Traditionally, pharaohs are depicted as idealistically heroic in Egyptian art. These departures from cultural norms that occur with the colossi of Akhenaten have, therefore, sparked numerous debates among scholars. Indeed, no artist would have voluntarily produced such an unusual image of the king without it being directed by the pharaoh himself. One theory suggests that the pharaoh wished to separate himself from ordinary people and associate himself solely with divinity and the Royal Family.
Explore Museums with Egyptian Artifacts
- Egyptian Museum, Cairo
- The British Museum
- Neues Museum, Berlin
- Egyptian Museum of Berlin, Neues Museum, Berlin
- Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET, New York, USA
- Penn Museum
- The Archaeological Civic Museum of Bologna
- Staatliche Sammlung für Ägyptische Kunst
“A beautiful thing is never perfect.”
– Egyptian Proverbs
Photo Credit: By Bs0u10e01 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons