Egypt Holds Lavish Parade For 22 Royal Mummies To Move Them To New Museum

In all likelihood, when you think of Egypt, you're immediately picturing something that dates back to its ancient kingdom that helped made its mark as one of the world's earliest civilizations.

And not only are these ancient pyramids and pharaohs an important part of the nation's history but also vital to its modern economy. That's why new discoveries of golden-tongued mummies and other antiquities are often better publicized there than in other parts of the world.

International curiosity in the ancient mysteries of Egypt was also a major driver for one huge event that filled the streets of Cairo last week.

On April 3, those who happened to be in downtown Cairo likely caught sight of a major procession intended to move 22 royal mummies to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

As CBS News reported, each of the 18 kings and four queens being transported had their own vehicles adorned with their names.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, each of these vehicles were made to look like the boats that transported these rulers to their tombs thousands of years ago.

The mummies themselves were put into nitrogen-filled containers that had no oxygen inside to protect them from the effects of humidity such as bacteria, fungi, and destructive insects.

Escorting these vehicles were a brigade of performers in eye-catching costumes meant to evoke the dress of ancient Egyptian citizens.

As CBS News described the affair, the parade route was lined with frescoes and an array of lights while musicians played and horse-drawn chariots like the one you see here made their own impressions.

The Smithsonian Magazine further reported that the event came in the wake of months of preparation and costs millions of dollars but is expected to produce some worthwhile results.

As Salima Ikram from Cairo's American University said, "In a way, people are very proud of what they are seeing. So although there was great expense, I think the return may be quite good in the long run."

Of the 22 mummies transported during the parade, 20 will eventually be on display in the NMEC, while the other two will be put in storage.

Wikimedia Commons | Ad Meskens, Metropolitan Museum of Art

According to CBS News, the pharaohs on display will include Seqenenre TaaII, Ahmose Nefertari, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Seti I, Ramses II, Merenptah, Seti II, Siptah, Ramses III, Ramses IV, Ramses V, Ramses VI and Ramses IX.

As the Smithsonian Magazine outlined, Ramses II and Hatshepsut were of particular note as the former led Egypt through a prosperous period in the 13th century B.C. while the latter was one of the few women who had the opportunity to rule Egypt.

The mummies going into storage will be Queen Meritamun and Queen T.

The 20 mummies earmarked for display will make their public debut in the museum on April 18.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, this will follow a 15-day period of laboratory restoration and will see them encased in a similarly temperature-controlled and humidity-controlled casing to the ones that held them during their ride.

As for why this parade happened in the first place, it was supposed to be spectacular enough to revitalize international interest in Egypt as a tourist destination.

As tourism encompasses one of Egypt's most vital industries, the Smithsonian Magazine reported that the dwindling that was already taking place in recent years due to political conflict was seriously worsened by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So much so that the total number of visitors plummeted from 13.1 million in 2019 to 3.5 million in 2020.

With that in mind, it seemed imperative that the parade made Cairo look as attractive as possible.

According to CBS News, one talk show host urged residents on the parade route to clear any junk from their roofs in anticipation of aerial footage capturing the event.

As the Smithsonian Magazine reported, however, this seemed to come at the expense of local residents as some Cairo citizens were turned away by security personnel and barriers were erected to hide the impoverished parts of the city.

In the words of urban planner Ahmed Zaazaa, "There is a tendency to try to show a better picture instead of fixing the existing reality. The government says they are making reforms, but the vast majority of people in Cairo who live in working-class neighborhoods are excluded."

h/t: CBS News, The Smithsonian Magazine