Ramses - The Gold of The Pharaohs
At the heart of the kingdom of one of the greatest builders in history, Ramses the Great
We had the privilege of previewing this magnificent exhibition that explores the life of Ramses II, considered the greatest king to ever rule Egypt. He died at the age of 90, after 60 years of reign, and the visit was a wonderful journey across time and space.
Ramses was a great warrior, a skilled negotiator, the author of the most famous peace treaty of antiquity, and also a great builder of Pharaonic Egypt.
The exhibition begins with a presentation of the famous Abu Simbel temple, carved out of the rock, whose façade integrates four colossal statues of Ramses II. The temple was dismantled, cut into large blocks and reassembled in a new location by UNESCO in 1964 to save it from destruction due to the construction of the Aswan Dam.
Visitors can admire 180 exceptional works: sarcophagi and animal mummies, furniture from the tombs of the city of Tanis that have been kept intact, jewellery (necklaces, pendants, bracelets, etc.), royal masks, amulets, statues as well as objects paying tribute to the remarkable Egyptian know-how.
Several works are emblematic, such as a limestone colossus showing Ramses II standing and holding the mekes, a cylinder used as a box for papyri. This work is presented for the first time outside Egypt. Other ex-ceptional pieces include a magnificent necklace of gold and inlaid gems weighing more than 8 kg, a mask of General Oundebaounded, the coffin of King Chechonq II of Dynasty XXII, meticulously restored, a colossal pink granite head discovered in 1888 in Memphis, a statue representing Ramses II in an offering position, a granodiorite bust of Ramses II, discovered in the temple of Amun at Tanis, or a mirror belonging to Princess Sathathoriounet.
The most moving item, exclusive to La Villette, is the sarcophagus of Ramses II, a priceless work on loan from the Egyptian authorities. Made of cedarm, this sarcophagus represents the king, arms crossed on his chest, holding the heqa sceptre and the nekhakha whip, and wearing a nemesis decorated with an upright co-bra as well as a hairy beard braided under his chin. The shroud he is wearing covers his feet. France has the honour of hosting it for the second time, after the restoration of his mummy in 1976.
The exhibition is brought to us from Houston (USA) and will then make a stop in 10 cities around the world.
By Armelle de Coudenhove
Exhibition at the Grande Halle de La Villette - © Bienvenue en France AdC