This is a permanent exhibition that can be visited at any time
World famous collection
Ancient cultures of Egypt and Nubia
The permanent exhibition on Egypt features more than 1,400 objects from the National Museum of Antiquities’ world-famous Egyptian collection. The galleries cover the entire ground floor of the museum. The archaeological finds on display, which include statues, vases, jewellery, papyri, painted coffins and mummified remains, are exceptionally well preserved. They tell us about life in ancient Egypt and Nubia, cultures that continue to spark the imagination of many people today.
Organised around highlights
The exhibition is organised around highlights from the museum’s collection. Examples include the double statue of Maya and Merit, the gilded bronze statue of the god Osiris, the reliefs of general Horemheb, the coffin of the priest Paneshy, the pillars from the tomb of Ptahmose, the stone monuments from Abydos, the funerary chapel (mastaba) of Hetepherakhty, and many more. Together they form one of the world’s ten most important Egyptian collections.
The exhibition begins with an introduction to the history and topography of ancient Egypt and Nubia. Most people lived along Africa’s longest river: the Nile. Thanks to the fertile silt that was deposited when the river flooded each year, they were able to farm. The figurine of a grain grinder – at the beginning of the exhibition – illustrates the importance of the Nile. A wooden model boat shows that the river was also an important thoroughfare.
The gallery on Egyptian religion begins with several creation stories; for example, of how the god Khnum created humans on a potter’s wheel. The many figurines of gods give a picture of a rich divine world. Attention is also paid to the cult of the pharaoh, who was seen as a god on earth.
A bronze status of the god Osiris, king of the underworld, leads you to the gallery on life after death. Here you will discover why Egyptians mummified bodies. Wealthy Egyptians took all kinds of objects with them on their journey to the underworld: papyri with magical texts showing the way, and coffins in which to keep their mummified bodies. The hieroglyphs on the large coffin of Peftjauneith are extremely elaborate. They show that neither trouble nor expense was spared to protect the mummy, magically or physically.
‘Unpack’ a crocodile mummy
Using a 3D app, you can find out more about two mummies from the collection. A touch-screen can be used to digitally ‘unpack’ the three-metre-long mummy of a crocodile and the mummy of the priest Ankhhor. This reveals what lies beneath the swathing-bands.
The Egyptians often used sun-baked clay to build their houses. Unfortunately, little remains of this after thousands of years. But temples and tombs were intended for all eternity and were therefore built in stone, a material that has mostly withstood the ravages of time. In the sculpture gallery, the skills of Egyptian artists and sculptors are on display in the larger-than-life statues, stone stelae and funerary chapels. Many of the objects come from Sakkara, the burial site of the ancient city of Memphis. Most of the stelae (stone slabs on which gods were worshipped and people commemorated) are from a place called Abydos.
Egypt and other cultures
In the last gallery, special attention is paid to the diversity and dynamics of ancient Egypt. The country had many contacts with other cultures, such as the Kushite empire. Here you can see objects from the time when Egypt was ruled by Kushite kings from Nubia. You will also find objects from other Nubian cultures. From the gallery you can see the central hall of the museum, where the temple of Taffeh stands. This building once stood in Nubia. Old video footage shows the dismantling of the temple and its later reconstruction in the museum.
Finally, the exhibition looks at the rise of Christianity in Egypt. There are a number of ostraca (potsherds), for example, with Bible texts dating from the period between 400 and 600 AD.