While some call it the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, others refer to it as the Museum of Cairo or the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This monumental museum which is located in Cairo, Egypt as the name indicates has stood out for several reasons over the decades.
Asides from holding an extensive collection of over 120,000 Egyptian artifacts, with some in display and others in the storerooms, the museum clearly holds a special appeal. It was built in 1901 by Garozzo-Zaffarani (an Italian construction company), according to a design by the French architect Marcel Dourgnon. The building is phenomenal and remains one of the largest museums in the region.
10 Egyptian Artifacts You Must See
It is true that the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities contains several important pieces of ancient Egyptian history – it houses the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities amongst others. So, should you think of visiting, be aware that you will be thrilled to see some of the most historical artifacts in the world. However, there is a charge to enter the Museum, with an additional charge to bring and use a camera and a substantial charge to view the mummified corpses of ancient pharaohs in Royal Mummies Hall. More so, even though you do not need a guide or a tour to appreciate the beauty of the museum, you should know that it is crammed full to bursting with historical wonders but generally poorly signed, so many people will appreciate the navigational expertise of a guide.
Aside from the few challenges, many history enthusiasts definitely find this place captivating, and to accommodate the teeming tourist population, the Egyptian Museum is open 7 days a week. It is open from morning to evening on Monday to Wednesday, morning to late on Thursday & Sundays, and morning to afternoon on the Islamic weekend which is Friday and Saturday. It is advised that one visits in the morning to beat the crowds and the top 10 artifacts to look out for while you are at the museum include the following:
1. Narmer Palette
- Original Owner: Discovered by James E. Quibell and Frederick W. Green,
- Date of Discovery: 1897–1898
- Design Material: Siltstone
The Pallette of Narmer, or Narmer Palette has been described as one of the most significant Egyptian archeological finds. The American Egyptologist Bob Brier describes it as the first historical document in the world. The palette is said to date back to the 31st century BC, and holds some of the earliest hieroglyphic engravings that have ever been found. It is believed that the palette portrays King Narmer’s unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.
This unique Egyptian artifact was discovered in what was called the Main Deposit in the Temple of Horus at Nekhen by British archeologists James E. Quibell and Frederick W. Green, during the dig season of 1897–98. At this dig, they also found the Narmer Macehead and the Scorpion Macehead. The Palette has survived five millennia in almost perfect condition and remains part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Cairo.
2. Mask of Tutankhamun
- Original Owner: Discovered by Howard Carter
- Date of Discovery: 1925
- Design Material: Gold, Glass Paste, Obsidian, Lapis, Lazuli, and Carnelian
The funerary Mask of Tutankhamun as it is popularly known is one of the most famous works of art in the world. It is a gold mask whose origin is linked to the 18th-dynasty ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun who reigned between (1332–1323 BC).
Even though Tutankhamun’s burial chamber was discovered at the Theban Necropolis in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 and opened in 1923, it took another 2 years before the excavation team, led by the English archaeologist Howard Carter, were able to open the heavy sarcophagus containing Tutankhamun’s mummy. According to reports, the mask is made from 11kg of solid gold and it is perhaps the best-known object from ancient Egypt itself.
3. The Grave Mask of King Amenemope
- Original Owner: Rediscovered Pierre Montet and Georges Goyon in April 1940
- Date of Discovery: April 1940
- Design Material: Gold, Cartonnage
Amenemope was an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh of the 21st dynasty, who was also the son and the successor of Psusennes I who ruled from 1001–992 BC. The King’s notable Grave Mask which is made of gold and cartonnage and other funerary goods, including funerary masks can be found in Cairo Museum.
According to reports, Amenemope was originally buried in the only chamber of a small tomb (NRT IV) in the royal necropolis of Tanis, he was then moved and reburied in NRT III, inside the chamber once belonging to his purported mother Mutnedjmet and next to Psusennes I. This undisturbed tomb was then rediscovered by French Egyptologists Pierre Montet and Georges Goyon in April 1940. Montet excavation was interrupted by World War II However, he later resumed it in 1946 and published his findings in 1958.
4. Colossal Satue of Amenhotep III and Tiye
- Original Owner: The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep II
- Date of Discovery: Late 19th Century
- Design Material: Limestone
The colossal statue of Amenhotep III and Tiye is a monolith group statue of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III of the eighteenth dynasty, his Great Royal Wife Tiye, and 3 of their daughters. It has been described as the largest known dyad ever carved. According to reports and postulations, the statue was likely carved around the first sed festival of Amenhotep III. Arielle Kozloff believes that the age of the daughters as depicted on the monument and the style of Queen Tiye’s wig suggest that the statue was made during the third decade of the king’s reign.
The statue was found in the late 19th century in fragments. In 1897 the fragments were moved by Georges Daressy to the forecourt of the small Amun temple at Medinet Habu, they were moved to Cairo and reassembled for the opening of the Egyptian Museum in 1902 Today, it is the centerpiece of the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
5. Mummy Mask of Wendjebauendjed
- Original Owner: Discovered by Pierre Montent
- Date of Discovery: 13th February 1946
- Design Material: Gold, Glass Plate
This funerary mask was originally used to cover the face of the Mummy of Wendjebauendjed who was a high dignitary – a high priest and general from the reign of Psusennes I of the 21st dynasty. Wendjebauendjed’s face is idealized and detailed – with a slight smile on the mask which is made out of solid gold. To form the eyes and eyebrows of this notable mask, colored glass paste was used.
It was because Wendjebauendjed held many remarkable militaries, administrative and religious titles that afforded him the honor of being buried in the royal necropolis even though he wasn’t a royal descendant. His tomb was found by Pierre Montent inside the royal necropolis of Tanis. He was discovered with his face covered by a golden mummy mask, with many other jewelry pieces found inside the sarcophagus. They include items such as rings, pectorals, bracelets, and gold statuettes.
Another remarkable discovery made alongside the Mummy Mask of Wendjebauendjed were 3 fine bowls made from gold and silver, as well as a lapis lazuli statuette of Amun in his ram form amongst others. All the funerary equipment alongside the mask are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
6. Khufu Statuette
- Original Owner: Temple of Khentyamentiu, Abydos, Upper Egypt
- Date of Discovery: 1903
- Design Material: Ivory
This Ivory figurine of Khufu is an ancient Egyptian statue. It depicts Khufu, a Pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty who is also the builder of the Great Pyramid. It is archaeologically and historically significant and was found in 1903 by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie. Petrie found the statue while excavating Kom el-Sultan in Abydos, Egypt.
It has been claimed that the statuette is the only complete 3 dimensional object which depicts Khufu and the only surviving statue of Khufu. Moreover, there has been several arguments about when it was made. While most Egyptologists consider the statue contemporary with Khufu very likely from his reign, some continue to question the dating due to its unusual provenance.
7. The Merneptah Stele
- Original Owner: Discovered by Flinders Petrie
- Date of Discovery: 1896
- Design Material: Granite
It is also known as the Victory Stele of Merneptah or the Israel Stele. It is an inscription by the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah whose reign was between (1213–1203 BCE). It was discovered by Flinders Petrie in 1896 at Thebes, and is now housed in the Museum of Cairo.
The stela has been described as the only material with the earliest textual reference to Israel and the only reference from ancient Egypt. It is said to be one of 4 known inscriptions, from the Iron Age, and the others are the Kurkh Monolith, the Mesha Stele, and the Tel Dan Stele. Many people including Flinders Petrie himself considers it to be his most famous discovery.
8. Ramesses III Prisoner Tiles
- Original Owner: Found in Ramesses III’s palaces at Medinet Habu.
- Date of Discovery: Catalogues in 1911
- Design Material: Ceramic
The Ramesses III prisoner tiles was discovered in Ramesses III’s palaces at Medinet Habu (adjacent to the Mortuary Temple at Medinet Habu) and Tell el-Yahudiyeh. They are a collection of Egyptian faience depicting prisoners of war. Since 1903, large numbers of faience tiles have been found in these areas by sebakh-diggers and many were found in excavated rubbish heaps. The best-known ones are those depicting foreign people or prisoners. All these tiles are considered to be of significant historical and ethnographical interest because they represent the neighboring populations during the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt.
9. Mummy Mask of Psusennes I
- Original Owner: Discovered by Pierre Montent
- Date of Discovery: 1940
- Design Material: Gold
Psusennes I was from the 21 Dynasty and served as the 3rd pharaoh of his time ruling from Tanis between 1047 and 1001 BC. His tomb was discovered by professor Pierre Montent, a French Egyptologist, in Tanis the year 1940. Unfortunately, most of the wooden objects had disintegrated due to the moisture in the ground in Lower Egypt. Despite this, the mask which is made of gold and lapis lazuli which is a deep blue semi-precious stone were both recovered. The mask is so solid that it is considered as “one of the masterpieces of the treasures of Tanis.”
More so, the mask which is made up of two pieces of beaten gold is soldered and joined together by five nails that can be seen from the back. As seen on the mask, the king wears the royal nemes headdress, which is usually made of linen and surmounted by the sacred uraeus and the royal cobra. This is said to protect the king against his enemies and opponents in life and death. The king is also spotted wearing a divine plaited false beard, which is the symbol of dignity, and a broad usekh collar incised with floral decorations.
10. The Golden Throne of Tutankhamun
- Original Owner: Discovered by Howard Carter
- Date of Discovery: 1922
- Design Material: Gold leaf, Precious Stones, Ename, Colored Glass and Carved Wood
During ancient Egypt, the golden throne was a symbol of power and a show of social status. This amazing piece of furniture has been described as the most prestigious of all the thrones discovered from an ancient society. With regards to Tutankhamun, he was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who was the last of his royal family to rule during the end of the 18th Dynasty. His tomb alongside several artifacts was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter in excavations funded by Lord Carnarvon.
It was also gathered that more than 5,000 artifacts were discovered alongside the throne and this sparked a renewed interest in ancient Egypt. However, amongst all that was discovered then, the royal throne of Tutankhamun captured the eyes of many as it is a unique work of art. The luxurious armchair is distinguished by the complexity of its technique and an abundance of details. Its colors have not faded for over 3,000 years, which further serves as a testament to the high skill of the ancient Egyptian craftsmen.
Here Is A List Of The Most Expensive Egyptian Artifacts
Apart from the 1o artifacts mentioned above, the Museum of Cairo also boasts of housing some of the most expensive Eqyptian artifacts which include:
- Greywacke Isis – $5.9m
- Statue of Ka-Nefer and his family – $2.8m
- Bronze cat – $2m
- Grandodiorite falcon – $1.7m
- Sarcophagus of Princess Sopdet-em-Haawt – $1m
- Painted votive linen – $782,500
- Diorite head of an official – $842,500
- Bronze Wadjet – $578,500