Mummies on the move: Egypt holds grand parade to transfer antiquities to new museum

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Egypt has held a special parade including a full orchestra and a light show as it transferred 22 ancient royal mummies to a new museum in Cairo.

Men marched with drums and women carried illuminated parcels as the ceremony got under way.

The mummies – 18 kings and four queens – were each transported by road in their own capsule filled with nitrogen to provide protection.

The capsules were carried on carts that cradled them and provided stability, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said.

Most are from the New Kingdom – also referred to as the Egyptian Empire – which ran between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC.

It is hoped they will spark renewed tourist interest in Egypt’s collections of antiquities, after a period when travel has been stalled by COVID-19.

Roads along the Nile were closed as the artefacts were transported from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat.

Mr Hawass said the new museum was chosen “because we want, for the first time, to display (the mummies) in a civilized manner, an educated manner, and not for amusement as they were in the Egyptian Museum”.

The artefacts were discovered in two batches in the Deir Al Bahari complex of mortuary temples in Luxor and at the nearby Valley of the Kings from 1871.

The oldest mummy is that of Seqenenre Tao, the last king of the 17th Dynasty, who reigned in the 16th century BC and is thought to have met a violent death.

The parade also included the mummies of Ramses II, Seti I, and Ahmose-Nefertari.