Welcome to the latest Ancient Egypt stories that made the headlines over the third week of May.
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Dr Khaled El-Enany has revealed that the Grand Egyptian Museum’s (GEM) opening ceremony will be a great surprise for all, and just as impressive as the recent Royal Mummies Parade.
El-Enany added that determining the date of the opening ceremony will be related to the global health situation, rather than just Egypt, and that it will be chosen according to the most appropriate time for everyone.
The GEM, which has been built in Giza, is the largest museum in the world dedicated to one civilisation, and its opening is eagerly anticipated. Among the museum’s exhibit will be over 5,000 artefacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun, which will be displayed together for the first time since their discovery a century ago.
The museum also features the first hanging obelisk in the world, along with a Grand Staircase replete with monumental artefacts from Ancient Egypt.
El-Enany said that Egypt will present other important activities during the coming period, including the upcoming celebration to open the New Administrative Capital (NAC), the city of Galala, and the opening of the Sphinx Avenue in Luxor.
The minister noted that the success of the Pharaoh’s Golden Parade reflected Egypt’s significant civilisation and the greatness of the country’s ancestors. It created a passion for many, not only to visit the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) in Fustat to see the royal mummies, but to visit Egypt.
El-Enany’s remarks came during his interviews with UAE newspapers on the sidelines of Egypt’s participation at the Arab Tourism Market (ATM) 2021.
Dr. El-Enany and Pilot Mohamed Manar, Civil Aviation Minister, inaugurated two new museums at Cairo International Airport, in celebration of International Museum Day, which is celebrated annually on May 18. The museums are located in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 buildings at Cairo International Airport.
The inauguration came as a continuation of the efforts and effective coordination between the two ministries in launching new initiatives and visions to revitalize the movement of tourism in Egypt, as well as highlighting the ancient civilization.
The ceremony was also attended by the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Brigadier Engineer Hisham Samir, Assistant Minister of Tourism and Antiquities for Engineering Affairs, and Professor Moamen Othman, Head of the Museums Sector at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, among other distinguished guests.
The ministers listened to a detailed description from the two museum’s curators during the opening ceremony, with the museum in Terminal 2, containing 304 artefacts that highlight the ancient Egyptian’s interest in the afterlife and the artistic features of the ancient Egypt, Roman, Greek, Coptic, Islamic, and modern eras.
Afterward, the ministers and their accompanying delegation went to the museum in Terminal 3, which has been enlarged from 60 square metres to 150.
During the inauguration, El-Enany expressed his happiness with the opening of the museums, describing it as a means of publicity and promotion for Egypt and its civilization, especially the cultural tourism product.
The minister noted that the museums are new attractions and a distinctive service that is provided within the Cairo International Airport for travellers, arrivals, transit travellers, and businessmen who have not had the opportunity to visit Egypt and its tourist and archaeological sites.
Dr El-Enany thanked Mr Manar for the continuous and fruitful cooperation and the effort made over the past year to achieve the dream and open the two museums, as it is an addition and a service that Cairo Airport provides to its passengers.
The Minister of Civil Aviation pointed out that Egypt’s airports are the country’s first gateway to the world, and the idea of establishing and developing the museum is an important means of developing transit tourism due to its distinctive location within the airport.
The Museum of Terminal 3 features 59 artifacts that were carefully selected by the Supreme Committee for Museum Displays from the storerooms of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, the Coptic Museum in Misr El Qadima, the Museum of Islamic Art in Bab al-Khalq, and the Ashmolean Museum.
The artefacts date back to the old, middle, and new kingdoms, as well as the Roman and Greek eras. Among the most important pieces on display, is a statue of an Egyptian scribe from the Fifth Dynasty, two pieces from pre-dynastic times and a group of statues from the Greek and Roman eras, as well as a statue of Queen Hatshepsut from the New Kingdom. There are also some rare pieces and Coptic icons from the eighteenth century, in addition to a set of coins, Qurans, and decorative plates that goes back to the different Islamic eras.
To celebrate World Museum Day month, the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir has on display an artefact that highlights the importance of doctors in ancient Egypt. It is a painted limestone statue of Niankhre II, identified as the inspector of physicians, dated to Dynasty 5 from the Old Kingdom, and was discovered at Giza.
The medical profession is one of the noblest and honourable professions, and doctors worldwide are respected and appreciated. They have a vital role today in confronting the repercussions of the Coronavirus crisis. A doctor has a fundamental and effective role in helping society, advancing and preserving its capacity through disease resistance and elimination.
Archaeologists have found a number of written records that describe ancient Egyptian medical practices, including the Ebers papyrus. The scroll provides evidence of sound scientific procedures: According to the papyrus, the centre of the body’s blood supply is the heart, and every corner of the body is attached by vessels. The Egyptians also practiced various medical specialties, such as dentistry, ophthalmology, and the study of internal diseases.
The ancient Egyptians’ practice of preserving deceased people as mummies meant that they learned a lot about how the human body works. Hygiene was an important part of Egyptian life, and houses contained early forms of bathrooms and toilets. The Ancient Egyptians took care to wash themselves, their clothes, and their food utensils, which helped protect their health. They practised advanced medical methods, combining spiritual treatments, herbal remedies, and surgery.
The Sharm el-Sheikh Museum has launched the "I Can" initiative in collaboration with a group of young volunteers in South Sinai Province, to stimulate tourism to the province. Archaeologists at the museum, through this initiative, have trained several students of an international school through a guided tour of the museum, during which they learned about the most prominent collections and unique artifacts on display.
As part of this initiative, these students are scheduled to emulate the job of a tour guide inside the museum, where each of them will take a group of museum visitors and guide them using different languages such as English, Russian, Italian and others.
The theme for World Museums Day, this year, is "The Future of Museums, Recovery and Reimagining".
Within the Nile Delta, the ancient Egyptian burial area at Quesna, is a hotspot for archaeological research. The location, protected by Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, has been enticing researchers for decades.
But the remains at one of Quesna’s burial sites, the large Falcon Necropolis, are not human. Its corridors store many creatures like falcons and shrews interred for religious reasons over 2000 years ago. Scientists study these animals to uncover information about ancient Egypt’s biodiversity and environment.
“A lot of these animals don’t exist in Egypt anymore, so the mummies can show us how environmental change has affected animals that once lived there,” said Neal Woodman, a United States Geological Survey scientist and research associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Recently, Woodman and his colleagues discovered a mummified shrew belonging to a species that prefers a damper climate than the one Egypt has today at the Quesna site. Their findings suggest that ancient Egypt’s environment was once more wet than it is now.
“Because we know where this species is found in modern times and what environments it likes, we can extrapolate what environment it would have flourished in back then,” said Salima Ikram, research associate at the museum, archeologist at the American University in Cairo and co-author on the paper.
The species, called Güldenstaedt's White-toothed Shrew, not only helps to show how ancient Egypt’s environment once looked. Its presence in the Falcon Necropolis adds to scientists’ understanding of how the region’s animal diversity has changed over time.
And that is it for this week.