Majestic Cairo Parade as Egyptian Mummies Move Museum by Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Ramses II Obelisk is seen after the renovation of Tahrir Square to move 22 mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, Cairo

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By Nadeen Ebrahim

CAIRO (Reuters) – A grand parade will bring 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies in specially designed capsules through the capital Cairo to a new museum house on Saturday, where they can be displayed in greater splendor.

The convoy will transport 18 kings and four queens, mostly from the New Kingdom, from the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square in central Cairo to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, about 5 km to the southeast.

Authorities are blocking streets along the Nile for the elaborate ceremony to spark interest in Egypt’s rich collections of antiquities when tourism has stalled almost entirely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Each mummy is placed in a special nitrogen-filled capsule to ensure protection, and the capsules are transported on carts designed to weigh them and provide stability, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said.

“We chose the Museum of Civilization because, for the first time, we wanted to display the mummies in a civilized, educated way and not for entertainment like in the Egyptian Museum,” he said.

Archaeologists discovered the mummies from 1871 in two batches in the complex of the mortuary temples of Deir Al Bahari in Luxor and in the nearby Valley of the Kings.

The oldest is that of Seqenenre Tao, the last king of the 17th dynasty, who lived in the 16th century BC. Ruled and presumably suffered a violent death.

The parade will also include the mummies of Ramses II, Seti I and Ahmose-Nefertari.

Fustat was the site of the Egyptian capital under the Umayyad dynasty after the Arab conquest.

“In this way the mummies come due with great pomp and circumstance,” said Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo.

“These are the kings of Egypt, these are the pharaohs. And so it is a way of showing respect.”

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