For several centuries, archaeologists from all around the globe have been attracted to ancient Egypt, trying to uncover its mysteries. The Egyptian civilisation, which flourished and lasted for more than three millennia, remains to be a constant source of fascination because of its advanced inventions, art, culture, philosophy, and daily life. In collaboration with the Czech Institute of Egyptology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, the National Museum opens on 30 August 2020 a unique exhibition entitled Kings of the Sun. Visitors to the show will have an exceptional chance to explore the earliest era of the Egyptian empire: the age of the pyramid builders. Thanks to a priceless collection of nearly 300 never-seen-before objects old almost 5,000 years combined with modern audio-visual material and unusual layout, the exhibition offers a window into the earliest times of the ancient Egyptian civilisation and allows visitors to experience the atmosphere of the era of great Egyptian kings.
After many years of preparations, the National Museum managed to mount an exhibition which is unique both in terms of the value and the origin of the objects on display. The exhibition Kings of the Sun is the first time ever that Egypt has loaned such an impressive collection of precious artifacts to a museum abroad.
The Old Kingdom of Egypt is regarded to be the first territorial state in human history. Between 27th and 22nd century BCE, the civilisation recorded unprecedented growth, evolving into an awe-inspiring culture admired for its advancement, skills, and mysteries.
The archaeological site of Abusir is a part of the pyramid fields extending dozens of kilometres from today’s Cairo all the way to the Faiyum Oasis in the south. During the time of the Old and Middle Kingdoms, some of the largest pyramid complexes of Egyptian kings and funerary structures of members of their families, high-ranking dignitaries, and common Egyptians were built here. Abusir and neighbouring Saqqara are located in the heart of this site, which is home to most royal and non-royal monuments preserved to date.
Kings of the Sun is a denomination given to the kings of the Fifth Dynasty who chose to worship primarily the sun god Ra out of the ancient Egyptian deity. Four of them erected their mortuary complexes in Abusir. During their rule, Egyptian architecture, art, philosophy as well as state administration reached their peak.
The exhibition presents the world-class achievements of Czech Egyptologists and explains the basic facts about the ancient Egyptian civilisation. Its aim is not only to showcase the collection of rare artifacts, but also to provide a deep understanding of the structure of this civilisation and of some personal stories of its officials. The show illustrates the importance of interdisciplinary research and of the huge potential of collaborations between archaeology and other technical and scientifical fields. It is a means of showing that archaeology is crucial to the understanding of our own civilisations.
Highlights of the exhibition include the most precious artifacts from 3rd to 1st millennium BCE, culminating with a set of globally unique royal sculptures of king Raneferef, which is one of the largest collections of preserved royal statutes from the Old Kingdom to date. Other objects include stone vessels, ceramics, writings, and reliefs from the royal complexes in Abusir. The total value of the objects amounts to CZK 1 billion. Discoveries in the king Raneferef’s temple complex are indisputably one of the most valuable achievements of Czech exploratory missions in Abusir. Considered to be one of the vastest sets of royal statutes from the age of the pyramid builders, it includes a rare papyrus archive describing the cult and ceremonies in the royal temple.
The exhibition features an unprecedented corpus of objects loaned from many international museums, including the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, museums in Berlin, Leipzig, Hannover, Heidelberg, Hildesheim, and Frankfurt am Main. It also displays items acquired by the National Museum thanks to the archaeological missions in Abusir led by Czech scholars from Charles University.
The exhibition is unique in content and form: not only it showcases precious and never-seen-before objects, but it also uses modern layout and design. As a result, it whisks visitors back to the age of the ancient Egyptian empire. Thanks to the use of audio-visuals and impressive installations, visitors can soak up the unique atmosphere of royal Abusir.
It combines the charm of original and unconceivably valuable artifacts, modern audio-visual features and impressive premises. That is why the exhibition Kings of the Sun is sure to become an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
The National Museum has prepared a diverse accompanying programme over the course of the exhibition’s duration. It includes lectures of Czech Egyptologists, film screenings about Egypt, activities for children, guided tours as well as a unique Egyptological night tour.