Sunday, October 5, 2014

Our Treasures Abroad, National Museum of Antiquities, Netherlands: Egyptian collection at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Egypt is a land of powerful pharaohs, fascinating mummies, and innumerable gods. The Egyptian collection at the National Museum of Antiquities is one of the ten most important Egyptian collections in the world.

Famous collection of mummies

The mummies and their beautifully painted cases hold a special place in the Egyptian galleries. Visitors come eye to eye with thirteen human mummies, some nearly three thousand years old. The colourfully painted wrappings and cases are decorated with hieroglyphics, pictures of gods, and scenes from the Egyptian afterlife. In a replica of a workshop, you can see exactly how dead bodies were mummified in ancient Egypt. Sacred animals were also mummified. You can find twenty-five animal mummies in this section of the museum, including mummies of a baboon and a crocodile.

Farmers and scribes

Around 3000 B.C. hieroglyphics were invented in Egypt. This script made it possible for the country to be governed centrally by one king, the Pharaoh. The invention of the script enabled the nation to break away from the primitive farmers' society it had been till then. The Egyptian civilization flourished, which was also due to the thousands of court officials taking care of the administration. The galleries follow a historical progression. The oldest objects are prehistoric, from the time when Egypt gradually became an agricultural society. The great kingdoms of Ancient Egypt formed in the centuries that followed, along the fertile shores of the Nile. One of the highlights of the collection is a sculpture of a scribe dating from 2400 BC. Knowledge of the mysteries of hieroglyphics was a much-needed skill in the central administration of this vast country. In a separate 'scriptorium', you can learn more about the development of different writing systems.

Pharaohs and the Egyptian realm of the dead

Without a doubt, the best-known ancient Egyptians are the pharaohs, such as Akhenaten and Tutankhamen. They were the rulers of the kingdom. One of the finest pieces in the Egyptian galleries is the large statue of Queen Hatshepsut. Along with Nefertiti and Cleopatra, she was one of the few women to achieve the status of pharaoh. Ancient Egyptians attached great importance to the afterlife. To make sure that they would live well after their deaths, wealthy Egyptians ordered the creation of beautiful sculptures, wall reliefs, and memorial chapels. The many statues of the countless Egyptian gods attest to the belief that life and death were controlled by higher powers.

Maya & Merit and Horemheb: world-class exhibits

The double statue of the powerful official Maya and his wife Merit is one of the jewels of the Egyptian collection. Maya was the overseer of the treasury under the pharaohs Tutankhamen and Horemheb. The reliefs from the tomb of Horemheb in Saqqara are also on display here. They describe his period as a military leader and are truly world-class examples of ancient art. Maya organized the arrangement of Tutankhamen's tomb. He had his own tomb built next to that of general Horemheb. At a later Dating from, at the time of Ramses II, the space in between was used to house the tomb of the treasury director Tia.

The mummified girl Sensaos and the temple of Taffeh

Sensaos the 'mummy girl' was reconstructed was reconstructed in the late twentieth century with the aid of advanced scanning equipment. She died some two thousand years ago, in a time when the power of ancient Egypt was diminishing and the Greeks and Romans were gaining control of the country. It was also the time of the greatest masterpiece in the museum's collection: the temple from the village of Taffeh. In the entrance hall you can view this impressive monument from all sides.

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