Few things in antiquity spark fantasy and imagination as much as the kings and some queens of ancient Egypt. The stuff of legend, horror, and studies, the remains of these people long gone, more popularly known as mummies, are revered not just as historical artifacts but also national treasures. Everything about them is treated with respect and sometimes with fear. Take for example the mere transfer of these mummies from one museum to another, held in an elaborate and historical procession fit for pharaohs.
18 kings and 4 four queens were set to be transferred from The Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Both are located in Cairo and are only 3 miles apart but the Egyptian government saw an opportunity to make a big fuss out of it. Thus, The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade was made.
The parade put the pharaohs in their chronological order of reign, from Seqenenre Taa II to Ramses IX of 12th century B.C. There were, of course, highlights in between, like Ramses II, perhaps one of the most famous of the group, and Queen Hatshepsut, notable for sitting on the throne in a period when women did not become pharaohs. In addition to people donning ancient Egyptian costumes, the mummies were carried in specially decorated vehicles meant to look like horse-drawn war chariots of their periods.
Transferring such historically critical mummies is no easy task, of course. They had to use special nitrogen-filled boxes to protect the mummies and sarcophagi from the elements. The vehicles themselves were fitted with special shock-absorbers and the roads along the route were repaved just for this occasion.
The grand procession and the new museum, which opens fully this month, are hoped to help revitalize the country’s tourism industry that was hit hard by the still ongoing pandemic. Of course, even and especially among Egypt’s citizens, there are dissenting views on how the mummies, which are technically preserved human corpses, should be treated. Not to mention whispers of how delays of the transfer, which included the recent blockage of the Suez Canal, might be tied to the notorious curse of the pharaohs after all.