It was an exhibition that has no period in the Czech Republic – for the first time in the history of the Czech Institute of Egyptology, they had the Egyptological opportunity to show the nation a selection of their most important discoveries in Egypt, where they have been operating without interruption for 61 years.
They come from the necropolis of Abusir, the Czech archaeological concession in Egypt, which lies near Cairo within sight of the famous pyramids of Giza. It is a burial ground from the times of the pyramid builders, where the kings of the 5th dynasty and their high dignitaries are buried, as well as other important people from later times.
In addition, it was a set of monuments that the Egyptians lent abroad for the first time and for the first time in such large numbers. They come from the period 3.-1. millennium BC.
“The Sun Kings exhibition was one of the most important in the history of the National Museum. It was a truly unique world-class project, which also deepened the positive relations between the National Museum and foreign lenders, “says Michal Lukeš, Director General of the National Museum.
“It was the only such large exhibition project in Europe during the pandemic,” added Michal Stehlík, Deputy Director of the National Museum.
Three hundred objects of extraordinary historical value were exhibited at the Sun Kings exhibition at the National Museum in Prague with “covid” breaks for more than a year and were seen by 120,000 visitors. However, out of the 13 months during which the exhibits were exhibited in Prague, visitors had only 216 days to inspect due to covid measures.
“I am glad that the Czech public had the opportunity to get acquainted with our discoveries in Abusir, which is our flagship in Egypt,” said Egyptologist Miroslav Verner. Czech Egyptologists have more concessions in the country, for example in the Western Desert.
Verner also reminded that the exhibition in Prague was organized for the third time. It was first arranged in 1989, but the Velvet Revolution interrupted the plans because state guarantees were needed to organize the exhibition, which was not possible at the time. For the second time, the exhibition was to take place at Prague Castle, but it was thwarted by another revolution, most recently the Arab Spring.
Transport back: by land and air
The exhibition ended on September 30, and after ten days of carefully “packing” ten tons of exhibits and storing them in shipping crates, in the evening the items pretend to be extremely strict security measures accompanied by police on a two-day trip back to Cairo. They are partially transported by land, transported between continents by plane. “Protection of exhibits during transport is provided by the Police of the Czech Republic. We cannot announce the title, “said the director of the National Museum Michal Lukeš.
With regard to the uniqueness of the exhibits and their unimaginable historical price, special security measures accompanied the exhibition as such throughout its duration.
“The historic building of the National Museum is equipped with a number of security systems after reconstruction. The exhibition had a special security regime that combined technical and personal protection of the exhibited objects. No security incident was recorded during its duration and all objects leave the National Museum in good condition, “said Lukeš.
Most of the three hundred artifacts exhibited in the National Museum come from the discoveries of Czech Egyptologists. However, they were also supplemented by the discoveries of German archaeologists who worked in Abusir before the first Czech expedition set out on the necropolis. These are monuments from the time of the builders of the pyramid, some of which are up to five thousand years old. As well as monuments borrowed from Cairo, exhibits borrowed from Leipzig, Berlin, Heidelberg, Frankfurt am Main and other German cities also returned to “their” museums.
Rare exhibits were insured for less than a billion crowns.
Czech Egyptologists are extremely successful in Abusir. Their most discoveries include a set of unique royal statues, a tomb with an untreated burial chamber belonging to the priest Iufa, a royal papyrus archive explaining how the priesthood worked in pyramid complexes, the tomb of one of the oldest ancient sages called Kairsu, and information alongside the famous Imhotep, and many other discoveries.
The exhibition was exceptional not only because it was the first loan of ancient monuments from Egypt to the Czech Republic, but many of them were abroad for the first time and some for the last time.
“After the exhibition, I will take my place in the new Great Egyptian Museum,” said Chaled el Anana, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, at the opening last August, according to which the Prague exhibition confirms strong relations between Czech and Egyptian archeology and museums
The new GEM Museum (Great Egyptian Museum) stands on the outskirts of Giza in sight of the famous pyramids of the 4th dynasty and will be opened soon. Of the objects exhibited at the National Museum in Prague, a set of nine limestone statues from the tomb of Princess Sheretnebte, daughter of the Sun King Niuserre, and her relatives will be exhibited. The most important of these is the unique statue of Princess Sheretnebtej with her son. Another object, which is intended for the Great Egyptian Museum, is the altar for Sanchuptah dignitaries from the second half of the Old Kingdom.
“The exhibition in Prague is a confirmation of the strong relations between our archeology and the museum,” the minister added.
“We think that the exhibition was successful for the Czech and Egyptian side and we evaluate the cooperation as excellent,” added the director of the National Museum Michal Lukeš, assuring that the institution is already working on the preparation of other important international projects for the coming years.