Pharaoh’s sarcophagus Ramesses II first came out of Egypt for a great exhibition in Paris that opens this Friday, in the gigantic hall of La Villette in Paris, where 180 artifacts, sarcophagi, mummies and jewels from the Egyptian golden age are on display until September.
Almighty monarch for 66 years in Ancient Egypt, Ramses ruled from approximately 1279 to 1213 B.C. C., a time of prosperity, marked by monumental works to glorify his military victories.
He had a dozen wives, including the legendary Nefertari, who disputes Cleopatra for the title of most beautiful monarch in the world. Ancient Egypt. He procreated more than 100 children, and when he died, after the age of 90, he was buried in a tomb unparalleled at the time, in the Valley of the Kings (south of present-day Egypt).
That tomb, of almost 900 m2, was looted, so the priests emptied it and the mummy was deposited in a cache, where it remained hidden until its discovery at the end of the 19th century.
That mummy was in turn saved from a fungal invasion by a team of French experts in 1976.
In gratitude, Egypt is now lending a rare cedarwood sarcophagus (minus the mummy), the highlight of an exhibition of 181 artifacts from that long reign that continues to fascinate Egyptologists and historians.
hidden for centuries
“When it was discovered that the tomb had been looted, the most urgent thing was to protect the mummy. For nearly a century it remained in the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I (father of Ramses II),” Egyptologist Benedicte Lhoyer told AFP. .
The mummy ended up much later in the current sarcophagus, where it remained for more than 2,800 years. “Ramesses II beat time. Like Tutankhamen, he has become immortal,” explains Lhoyer, who describes the exhibition as “exceptional.”
Among the most spectacular pieces, a colossal head of the pharaoh in pink granite, discovered in Memphis, a gold death mask of General Wendjebauendjed or several jewels set with precious stones of princesses of the time.
“Paris will be the only European city to host this exhibition and, above all, the only one to show the sarcophagus of Ramesses II”, explained the Egyptologist. In 2019, Paris already hosted a large exhibition dedicated to Tutankhamun that brought together more than 1.4 million visitors.
For Ramses II (who reigned much longer than his predecessor), “we have already sold more than 145,000 reservations, which is more than what we had with Tutankhamun,” the president of the organizing company, World Heritage, explained to the press on Thursday. Exhibitions (WHE), John Norman.
In addition to the exhibition dedicated to Tutankhamun, WHE has organized other high-impact events in recent times, such as the treasures of Machu Picchu or the exhibition on the last days of Pompeii.
Victory over the Hittites
Ramses II went down in history above all for his victory over the Hittites, who threatened Egypt from Anatolia (present-day Turkey).
The battle of Qadesh, in northern Syria, is one of the most famous in antiquity. Ramses II smashed the mighty enemy army, and the victory served to glorify himself for decades and reinforce his authority in an empire where, by definition, the pharaohs were considered gods.
Ramses II took advantage of that halo that surrounded him to build temples (in honor of Amun in Thebes, or the funerary temple of Ramesseum) and to move the capital of the empire to the north of the country (Pi-Ramses). The Parisian exhibition will remain open until September 6, full admission costs 24 euros (about $26).
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