In a scene that could have been plucked from a Hollywood genre film, 22 ancient mummies were moved in a procession through downtown Cairo as they were moved from a museum where they have been stored for more than 100 years to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in the city.
They were carried on custom-made vehicles, with the event broadcast live on state television – with the event featuring Egyptian A-list celebrities and a 21-gun salute – as the occasion acted as a celebration for the museum and also a call-to-action to lure tourists back to Cairo after the pandemic. The mummies were placed in special nitrogen-filled boxes to help protect them against external conditions, while roads along the route had been repaved to keep the journey smooth.
The striking, multimillion-dollar spectacle saw the 22 mummies - 18 kings and four queens - transported from the neo-classical Egyptian Museum to their new resting place 5km (three miles) away at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation. These new exhibits will now be housed in the Royal Hall of Mummies and will go on display to the general public from 18 April.
They were transported with great fanfare in chronological order of their reigns - from the 17th Dynasty ruler, Seqenenre Taa II, to Ramses IX, who reigned in the12th Century BC.
The mummies also included King Ramses II, the most famous pharaoh of the New Kingdom, who ruled for 67 years and is remembered for signing the first known peace treaty. Another was Queen Hatshepsut, or Foremost of Noble Ladies. She became ruler even though the customs of her time were that women did not become pharaohs. The mummies were originally discovered in 1881 and 1898 in the ruins of Thebes, Egypt's ancient capital, which is now modern day Luxor in Upper Egypt.
In a television interview, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities credited the president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, for conceiving of the public procession as a way to draw tourists back after the coronavirus pandemic brought international travel to a halt last year.