Dubai: A grand parade that took place in Cairo on Saturday saw 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies in specially designed capsules moved across Cairo to a new home.
The parade moved 18 kings and four queens, escorted by Egyptian movie stars, singers, and guards from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum in central Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat.
Authorities shut down roads along the Nile for the elaborate ceremony, which was created to draw attention to and to highlight Egypt’s incredibly rich heritage.
Tourism has almost entirely stalled because of COVID-19 related restrictions, so the new Royal Museum, which was inaugurated on Saturday, gives Egyptians new hope of drumming up interest in their rich collection of antiques. “Our country is filled with incredible finds and our history is… well, it’s ancient,” Maha Abdel Fattah, an Egyptian living in Alexandria, said to Gulf News. “Just as people go to the Louvre and to the British Museum to see Egyptian artefacts, they should be coming to Egypt, the land in which they were created.”
Each mummy was reportedly placed in a special capsule filled with nitrogen to ensure protection, and the capsules were carried on carts designed to cradle them and provide stability, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said to Reuters.
"We chose the Civilization Museum because we want, for the first time, to display the mummies in a civilized manner, an educated manner, and not for amusement as they were in the Egyptian Museum," he said.
The parade, which was broadcast live on state television, was complete with a military band, a 21-gun salute and a slew of Egyptian A-list celebrities. “I was truly blown away,” Salma El Shahed, an Egyptian living in Dubai, said to Gulf News. “The live orchestra, the actors, the talent. The writing was also impeccable. It was a truly magnificent production worthy of the kings and queens who made their way through Cairo to what I hope will be their final resting place.”
"Honestly, I can’t believe how amazing it was. So well-executed and a world-class event. I am so beyond proud,” said Nerveen Mubarak, an Egyptian living in the UAE.
“It is so impressive. I have never been more proud,” Marina Wahby said to Gulf News.
The procession kicked off at around sunset as the royal mummies were moved on the road from Tahrir Square along a Proceeding along a eight-kilometre route along the Nile river. The parade ended with fireworks and sound-and-light show.
Who are these royal mummies?
Archaeologists discovered two batches of mummies in the complex of mortuary temples of Deir Al Bahari in Luxor and at the nearby Valley of the Kings from 1871.
The majority of the paraded mummies date from the New Kingdom (about 1539 B.C. to 1075 B.C.), a golden age of Egyptian civilization. The parade featured the mummies of Ramses II, a.k.a “the Great”, Seti I, and Ahmose-Nefertari. The oldest is that of Seqenenre Tao, the last king of the 17th Dynasty, who reigned in the 16th century BC and is thought to have met a violent death.
"These are the kings of Egypt, these are the pharaohs. And so, it is a way of showing respect," added Hawass.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi stood by as the mummies filed past on vehicles adorned with golden pharaonic symbols.
The heads of the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization were also present at the ceremony.
-Inputs from Reuters