The coffin of one of Egypt’s longest ruling Pharaohs, Ramses II, has been unveiled in Paris as part of an exceptional loan to France.
The coffin of one of ancient Egypt’s longest ruling Pharaohs, Ramses II, has been unveiled in Paris as part of an exceptional loan to France.
The ornate sarcophagus will be the star attraction at an exhibition of 180 original pieces, some of which have never left Egypt before.
"From an historical point of view, this is a piece of inestimable value. Part of the sarcophagus of Ramses II that protected the mummy of the king for 2,900 years,” said Egyptologist Benedicte Lhoyer who is scientific advisor to the exhibition.
Ramses II was Pharaoh of ancient Egypt between 1276 and 1213 BC, an exceptionally long reign, during which he established the Pharaohs domination over Nubia and built the temple of Abou Simbel.
But while the beautiful sarcophagus will be on display in Paris for a few months, the king's mummy has remained in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
"It's really extremely fragile. It's a body, moreover, it's a king and such a symbol, it will always remain in Egypt,” said Lhoyer.
The loan of the coffin is a gesture of gratitude towards Paris, whose scientists preserved Ramses II's mummy by treating it against fungus when it was exhibited in the city in 1976.
Its latest stay in the French capital offers a rare opportunity to admire inscriptions on the sarcophagus' sides, which detail how his body was moved three times from 1070 BC, after his tomb was raided by grave robbers.
"It is an extraordinary opportunity for children and the public of all ages. It’s completely different to see it in real life rather than seeing it in pictures or on the internet," said French Culture Minister, Rima Abdul Malak.
In addition to the coffin, the Paris exhibition will include vast numbers of ancient Egyptian objects, solid gold and silver jewellery, statues, amulets, masks, and other sarcophagi.
“Ramses the Great & the Gold of the Pharaohs” will run at the Grande Halle de la Villette from 7 April to 6 September 2023.