The parade of gold-colored ‘pharaonic chariots’ with the mummies of eighteen kings and four queens in chests left from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in the center of the capital. The 7-kilometer drive to the NMEC took almost 45 minutes. Each vehicle bore the ruler’s name and was fitted with special shock absorbers to ensure that the mummies would not be damaged. The event was accompanied by musical performances by Egyptian artists.
Tahrir Square, recently adorned with an antique obelisk and four ram-headed sphinxes, was closed to vehicles and pedestrians, authorities said. The Egyptians could follow the golden parade on television or online.
In chronological order, Pharaoh Seqenenre Taa (16th century BC), nicknamed ‘the brave’, opened the procession, which was closed by Ramesses IX (12th century BC). Among the most famous mummies are those of Hatshepsut and Ramses II. Hatshepsut’s reign for about twenty years (1479-1458 BC) was characterized by a growth in trade. Ramesses II, a great warrior king and one of the most powerful pharaohs, reigned for 67 years (1301-1236 BC).
The opening of the NMEC, a large building in the south of the capital, is scheduled for April 4. But the mummies won’t be out to the public until April 18. UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay called the relocation of the mummies in Cairo “the culmination of a long process to better preserve and display them.” UNESCO contributed to this.
Most of the 22 mummies discovered near Luxor in 1881 had not left Tahrir Square since the early 20th century. Since the 1950s they have been exhibited in a small room without much additional explanation.
After years of political instability following the 2011 popular uprising, which dealt a severe blow to tourism, Egypt is trying to bring visitors back, particularly by promoting culture. In addition to the NMEC, Egypt will open the Great Egyptian Museum (GEM) at the Pyramids of Giza in a few months, where pharaonic collections will be housed.
Saturday’s grand parade caused a stir on social networks. Many saw a link between the recent disasters in Egypt and a “curse” allegedly caused by the displacement of mummies. In one week in Egypt, the Suez Canal was blocked by a container ship, 18 people were killed in a train accident in Sohag and a building in Cairo collapsed, killing at least 25 people.
The ‘Pharaoh’s curse’ was also raised in the 1920s after the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, followed by the deaths of members of the team of archaeologists believed to be mysterious.