A historical background
The Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities is considered one of the world's oldest, most famous, and most prominent museums. The Egyptian Museum has a long history that dates back to 1825 when Mohamed Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt at the time, issued a decree to establish a museum for the precious antiquities of Egypt. The museum's first location was in front of Azabakeya Lake, between the squares of Opera and Atabba today.
The Ruler of Egypt at this period didn't fully realize the value of Egypt's antiquities and ancient historical finds. For a time, they gave them to various European tourists who visited Egypt during the middle of the 19th century.
Eventually, the rest of the antiquities kept near Azabakeya Lake were taken to an abandoned room in the citadel. The Austrian Archduke, Maximilian, visited the citadel and was quite taken by the fantastic belongings of this room.
Surprisingly, the ruler of Egypt at the time, Khedive Abbas, gave the Archduke all the items in the room. Afterward, Maximilian took these treasures to Austria, where they remain today.
After years of attempts and hard work, the great Egyptologist Auguste Mariette was paramount in opening the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities, located in the famous Tahrir Square, when it opened to the public on November 15th, 1902.
About the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
Situated in front of the main entrance of the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities is a small artificial lake surrounded by the lotus and the papyrus plants, the most revered plants of the ancient Egyptians.
The Papyrus is a long green plant that the ancient Egyptians used to produce paper. On a side note, the words “paper” in English and “Papier” in French are derived from the word Papyrus.
The sections of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
The Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities, located in Tahrir Square in Cairo, is considered the largest museum in the world. With so many exhibits put on display in the Egyptian Museum, and even double the number of exhibits kept in storage rooms, the guests would take days to view everything in the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities.
The Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities consists of two floors; the ground floor hosts more extensive displays, such as coffins, giant statues, and stone carvings.
The displays on the ground floor were organized according to the historical periods: the Old Kingdom, the Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom, the Late Period, the Greco-Roman Period, and the antiquities of the Nubia.
The upper floor of the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities hosts smaller displays that include gadgets and tools, funerary objects, smaller statues, papyrus papers, wooden coffins, jewelry, and most importantly, the Tut Ankh Amun tomb exhibits. It is an experience not to be missed.
The Narmer Plate
Among the most critical displays that the guests of the Egyptian Museum should view during their visit is the Narmer Plate, also known as the Plate of King Menes.
The Narmer Plate is a large plate made of stone, and it is the only remaining evidence that King Narmer or Menes was able to unify the two regions of Egypt, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, in one unified kingdom, beginning the dynastic era of Egyptian history. That is quite an impressive feat.
The name of King Menes is inscribed on the two sides of the plate. King Menes is portrayed on one side of the plate wearing his long white crown and seems to be about to beat a war prisoner with his bare hands.
On the other side of the Narmer Plate, the king is portrayed wearing two crowns and walking with his followers to supervise the prosecuting of the war prisoner.
The Displays of the Old Kingdom
The displays of the Old Kingdom in the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities are located on the left-hand side of the entrance door, and they are among the most remarkable among the whole displays of the museum.
The Old Kingdom, known as the "Pyramids Builders Period," is a section of ancient Egyptian history area.
The most significant achievements of this period are the Pyramids of Giza, the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, the Pyramids of Dahshur, and the Pyramids of Abu Sir.
King Menes founded the first capital of a unified Egypt in the 32nd century BC, and it was called Memphis, presently located to the South of Giza. The most critical Egyptian kings that ruled the country from Memphis were King Menes or Narmer, King Zoser, King Senefru, King Chespos, and King Khafre.
There is a beautiful statue of King Khafre made out of alabaster, and it is displayed in the second half of the museum's ground floor. There are also four heads of some of the king's relatives made of limestone.
Moving forward in the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities, guests will find a collection of attractive smaller statues of servants carrying out their everyday duties and responsibilities.
There is a statue of a woman grinding the grains, and beside her is a statue of a man getting the dough ready to produce beer. On the other side is a man grilling a goose, and beside him, another man is holding a large bag on his shoulder.
These statues were found in some of the Nobles' tombs, which included these servants in their burial chambers to serve them in the afterlife as they did on Earth.
Afterward, as they explore the ground floor of the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities, guests will find an extensive collection of coffins that were made from various rocks and stones adorned with notable decorations and carvings.
There are also the walls of the funerary chamber that were reconstructed after being brought from one of the tombs of Saqqara. This piece is the best example of the magnificent breadth of the art of the 6th dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The guests will view on the chamber walls a list of items showing what the deceased might need in the afterlife.
The Old Kingdom is considered among the most consequential periods of the ancient Egyptians. This is why giant statues are featured with extreme accuracy in both design and beauty. A prime example of this is the beautiful statue of King Khafre, made out of solid diorite stone.
Another example of the detailed statues of the old kingdom would be the sycamore-carved statue of the “Sheikh of the Town,” one of the most important figures that dates back to ancient Egypt and is still practiced today.
The Displays of the Middle Kingdom
The Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities hosts ten notable statues that date back to the Middle Kingdom. The ten statues portray King Senosert I, a king who belongs to the 12th dynasty, and they are all made out of limestone.
There are also three other statues of Senosert portrayed as the god Osiris, and they were found near the El Lisht, an area near El Fayoum, and the Pyramid of Medium to the South of Cairo.
The Middle Kingdom period started in Egypt with the fall of the Old Kingdom, and it was, according to historical records and researchers, a relatively negative period of ancient Egyptian history.
However, with the beginning of the rule of the 12th dynasty, the living conditions of the Egyptians were improved, and their arts and industries greatly flourished.
Another transition took place in Egypt once again; as the nobles fought among each other, the living conditions deteriorated, and the way was paved for the Hyksos to invade the country.
When the 17th dynasty came to rule over Egypt from Thebes, they began to fight these foreign invaders until King Ahmose defeated the Hyksos and expelled them from Egypt. Ahmose founded the 18th dynasty, the first dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt.
The Displays of the New Kingdom
The 18th dynasty, which is the first dynasty of the New Kingdom, is considered to be among the greatest dynasties that ruled over Egypt, and the most important rulers of this period were Queen Hatshepsut, King Amenhotep, Ikhnaton, and King Tut Ankh Amun.
There are so many displays in the Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities that date back to the New Kingdom. Among these are several statues of the goddess Hathour and the god Amun, the most famous god of ancient Egypt.
The displays of the New Kingdom also include an extensive collection of mummification tools, chairs, wooden objects, crowns, and statues of gods, kings, and queens dating back to many different periods of the New Kingdom.
There are a number of remarkable statues of Queen Hatshepsut, with some of them portraying her in the shape of the Sphinx while the other shows her in the disguise of a man.
There are some notable statues of King Tuthmosis III, the successor of Hatshepsut, who is known as one of the most skillful military leaders of ancient Egypt, so much so that he was called the Napoleon of Egypt!
Hours of operation:
Open daily, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
9:00 AM-5:00 PM during Ramadan
Egyptian: LE 30 (LE 15, students)
Foreign: LE 300 (LE150, students)
Student rates are available to bearers of a valid student ID from an Egyptian university or an International Student ID Card (ISIC)
Midan al-Tahrir, Downtown Cairo
By metro: Sadat Station, follow signs to the Egyptian Museum exit and walk straight along the street.
By car or taxi: Ask for "al-met-haf al-masri"
By bus: Ask for "abdel minem-ryad"
Cafeteria, bank, post office, gift shop, library, children's museum, school
Taped audio guides are available in English, French, and Arabic for LE 20. Go to the kiosk in the front foyer to purchase.
Membership in the Friends of the Egyptian Museum organization is available. Call for details (+20-(0)2-2579-4596).
SERVICES FOR PATRONS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS:
An elevator, located to the right of Gallery R43 (Pre- and Early Dynastic), is available for those unable to use the stairs--ask the engineers in the office next to the elevator to activate it.
Guided tours for blind and low-vision patrons are available upon request (please phone in advance).