What looks like the plot of a movie was part of a lavish celebration of Egyptian history and a plan to move some of its greatest treasures to a new, high-tech facility.
The mummies of Ramses the Great and 21 others were part of “The Pharaoh’s Golden Parade”, a highly anticipated event organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
The parade route took place between the Egyptian Museum, their former location near Tahrir Square, and their new home, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) in Egypt’s first Islamic capital, al-Fustat.
Cars carrying 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies depart from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo during the parade.
Khaled Desouki / AFP / Getty Images
Along with the 22 Egyptian royal mummies, 17 royal sarcophagi were also carried in the procession, which moved along the Nile and was accompanied by chariots and horses, according to Ahram Online, led by Egypt.
Sarcophagi are stone coffins often decorated with carvings and inscriptions.
Among the mummies are those of Kings Ramses II, Seti I, Seqenenre and Thutmose III, in addition to four queens: Ahmose-Nefertari, Tiye, Meritamun and Hatshepsut.
The parade was greeted by 21 cannon shots and joined by a military band. The mummies were transported in special decorated vehicles with their names inscribed in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics as well as in Arabic.
The mummies who participated in the parade were discovered in two hiding places. The first was discovered in 1881 at Deir El-Bahari in the West Bank of Luxor in tomb TT320.
The 22 royal mummies are from the New Kingdom, a time when tombs were built underground with hidden entrances to ward off tomb thieves.
Prepare the mummies
The purpose of the parade was to move the 18 kings and four queens of Egypt, as well as their coffins and personal belongings, from their former home to the Egyptian Museum.
Performers dressed in ancient Egyptian costumes parade at the start of the parade of 22 Egyptian royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Mahmoud Khaled / AFP / Getty Images
Dr Mostafa Ismail, head of conservation at NMEC’s Mummy Preservation and Storage Laboratory, led a team of 48 people to prepare the royal mummies.
The preservation process, he told CNN, involves placing each mummy in an oxygen-free nitrogen capsule “which can keep it preserved without being damaged by the effects of humidity, especially we are talking about bacteria. , fungi and insects ”.
The capsule is surrounded by a flexible material which distributes the pressure and reduces vibrations during transport.
When the mummies arrive at the NMEC, the display units will have exactly the same conditions as the nitrogen capsules. “So there will be no shock to the mummy when we take it out of the box and place it in these units,” Ismail adds.
Accompanying each mummy will be all personal belongings discovered by their side, including their coffins.
The screens will also show CT scans that reveal what’s under the envelopes, and sometimes bone fractures or illnesses that plagued the royals.
CNN’s Taylor Barnes and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.