A grand parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies in special capsules drove across Cairo on Saturday to a new museum home where they can be displayed in greater splendour.
The convoy transported 18 kings and four queens, mostly from the New Kingdom, from the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, about 5km to the south-east.
Each mummy had been placed in a special capsule filled with nitrogen to ensure protection. They were carried on vehicles designed to cradle them and provide stability. Authorities shut down roads along the Nile for the elaborate ceremony, designed to drum up interest in Egypt’s rich collections of antiquities when tourism has almost entirely stalled because of COVID-19 related restrictions.
Fustat, the home of the new museum, was the site of Egypt’s capital under the Umayyad dynasty after the Arab conquest. Archaeologists discovered the mummies in two batches at the complex of mortuary temples of Deir Al Bahari in Luxor and at the nearby Valley of the Kings from 1871.
As the royal mummies arrived at the museum, which was officially inaugurated on Saturday, cannons fired a 21-gun salute. President al-Sisi stood by as the mummies filed past on vehicles bedecked with golden pharaonic motifs. The heads of the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization were also present at the ceremony.