Published: 15:04, May 24, 2024
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When ancient Egypt comes to China
By Zhang Kun
An animal statue and another artifact of ancient Egyptian civilization to be showcased at the Shanghai exhibition. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The Shanghai Museum announced on Monday ticket pre-sales for its exhibition, On Top of the Pyramid: The Civilization of Ancient Egypt, which it claims is the largest showcase of ancient Egypt civilization in Asia.

Running from July 18 this year to Aug 17, 2025, On Top of the Pyramid: The Civilization of Ancient Egypt will feature 492 displays of 788 artifacts from various periods of Egypt's history, says Shanghai Museum director Chu Xiaobo.

Chu introduces such highlights as statues of pharaohs, including those of Tutankhamun, Amenemhat III and Ramses II; a complete set of mummies' coffins; gold jewelry belonging to a queen; and recently discovered painted coffins, animal mummies and statues from the Saqqara region.

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The institution's largest-ever themed exhibition will occupy all three exhibition halls on the ground floor of the Shanghai Museum in People's Square, he says.

An animal statue and another artifact of ancient Egyptian civilization to be showcased at the Shanghai exhibition. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Visitors are encouraged to bring their pet cats for special evening events during the exhibition to pay tribute to the cat goddess, Bastet.

In 2020, ruins of a temple dedicated to Bastet dating back to 600 BC were unearthed in Saqqara, 30 kilometers south of Cairo.

The finds, including animal mummies and well-preserved relics from priests' tombs, were so remarkable that the dig was listed among the top 10 archaeological revelations of the year.

The Shanghai exhibition will be the first systematic showcase of these artifacts, which have been stored in warehouses of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Chu says.

The Secrets of Saqqara will be shown as the exhibition's second section.

The first is The Land of the Pharaohs, which provides an overview of ancient Egyptian history, exploring its cosmology, social hierarchy, writing, craftsmanship and burial traditions. The third section is dedicated to Tutankhamun, a pharaoh who died young. The 1922 discovery of his tomb intrigued the whole world.

A statue among the 788 artifacts from various eras of ancient Egyptian civilization to be on display. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The exhibits have been carefully curated from artifacts from seven major Egyptian museums, including the Egyptian Museum, Luxor Museum and Suez Museum, along with the latest findings in Saqqara, Chu says.

The exhibition marks the first comprehensive collaboration between an official Chinese museum and the Egyptian government.

"It'll witness a great advancement in the golden era of Sino-Egyptian relations," says Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism official Zhong Xiaomin.

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Mohamed Ismail Mohamed Khaled, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities under the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, says: "This is one of the largest exhibitions we have sent abroad in the last 20 years.

"China and Egypt have had great relations for several thousands of years, and this exhibition is the result of this long collaboration between Egypt and China," he says.