Calling all amateur Egyptologists, history buffs and lovers of gold and glamour – a blockbuster exhibition packed out with priceless Ancient Egyptian artefacts is coming exclusively to Sydney this summer. Opening from Saturday, November 18, at the recently refurbed Australian Museum in Sydney, Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs is an interactive museum experience more than 3,000 years in the making, featuring 181 priceless artefacts.
It is the largest cultural exhibition to visit Australia in more than a decade, and in a huge coup, the Museum shipped over the actual coffin of Ramses the Great for it. Time Out got a sneak peek at the exhibition and sussed out the top three highlights of Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs. You can also check out our First Look video.
The secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and renowned archaeologist, Dr Mostafa Waziry, flew to Sydney to launch Ramses at the Australian Museum. You may have seen him appear in television specials and documentaries, including Netflix’s recent doco Unknown: The Lost Pyramid.
Time Out’s Alannah Le Cross was there to get the scoop on what’s in store with the exhibition, and be regaled by Dr Waziry’s stories from expeditions and his passion for Egyptian history. Dr Waziry said that about 60 per cent of Egypt’s treasures are as yet undiscovered, and revealed the four artefacts he would like to see returned to Egypt (one of them is the Rosetta Stone, which currently resides at the British Museum).
Here is everything we know so far about the Egyptian exhibition coming to Sydney:
What's in the Ramses exhibition?
All the objects in Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs have come from museums and historical sites in Egypt and are on loan to the exhibition from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. The exhibition features 181 priceless artefacts and ornate golden treasures, including one-of-a-kind relics such as sarcophagi, animal mummies, magnificent jewellery, spectacular royal masks, and exquisite amulets – many of which have never left Egypt before.
Who is Ramses the Great?
Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs provides visitors with a window into the life and accomplishments of King Ramses II, more commonly known as Ramses the Great, who ruled Egypt for nearly 67 years – the second longest reign for any pharaoh in Ancient Egyptian history. Ramses the Great, who lived to about 92 years of age, came to epitomise the power and wealth of Ancient Egypt during the New Kingdom period, 1539-1075 BC, when Egyptian civilisation was at its height. Ramses was known as a mighty warrior who secured peace with his neighbours, led an extensive building campaign that included scores of gigantic monuments to himself, and is believed to have fathered more than 100 children (busy guy!), some of whom played a crucial role during his reign.
Why Gold of the Pharaohs?
The era of Ramses the Great marks the climax of Egyptian civilisation, a time when riches flooded the empire from across the world, converging on the city of Pi-Ramesses, the capital founded by Ramses II in the eastern delta. After the New Empire (1550-1069 BC) the capital was relocated to the site of Tanis. When Pierre Montet excavated Tanis in 1939, he discovered the untouched treasure trove of vases, goblets, statuettes, necklaces, bracelets and rings. Some of the artefacts uncovered were even older, since objects and monuments had been relocated from the previous capital to build the new city. Most of the royal funerary treasures are on display in Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs, made of every kind of previous material: gold, silver, electrum, lapis lazuli, obsidian, turquoise stone, carnelian and chalcedony.
What makes the Ramses exhibition interactive?
The interactive museum event features a virtual reality experience that takes visitors on a whirlwind tour of two of Ramses' most impressive monuments: the Tomb of Queen Nefertari, his favourite Royal Consort, and the temples of Abu Simbel.