Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs is now on

Ramses II was a “great king, a king of kings”, or so says Dr Zahi Hawass – and he should know. The well-known Egyptian archaeologist, Egyptologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs has spent a lifetime curating the artefacts from tombs and the pyramids – or more than half a century.

Dr Hawass and his colleague Dr Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities – both starring in the Netflix series Unknown: The Lost Pyramids – head the team that are behind the showcase of 182 exquisite antiquities from legendary Ramses and other kings and queens of the Nile, now on show at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

It includes Ramses’ wooden coffin which is rarely permitted to leave Egypt with Sydney only the second city in the world, after Paris, to showcase this extremely valuable artefact.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the whole collection also includes the upper part of a limestone colossus of Ramses II that weighs 725kg, several golden masks and magnificent, ornate jewellery including a solid gold collar, crafted more than 3000 years ago and weighing in at 4.3kg.

There are also animal mummies including cats, crocodiles, mongoose and lion cub, some of which were uncovered by Dr Waziri. There are huge expectations for the Ramses exhibition in Sydney with Dr Waziri expecting a million visitors to the exhibition, with more than 100,000 people already booked to experience the rule of Ramses in this interactive display.

Ramses reigned for almost 67 years and died aged 90. In that long reign, he was a famous warrior, is credited with delivering the first peace treaty with the Hittites, and also managed to father 100+ children with several wives, including Nefertari.

Kim McKay, director and CEO and the Australian Museum and long-time pharaoh fan said Ramses is the most prestigious cultural exhibition to be hosted by the Australian Museum on over a decade.

“Ramses the Great was a phenomenon – a beloved father, incomparable warrior, and prolific builder whose legacy is both political and cultural. Responsible for countless temples, pyramids and statues, the first-ever peace treaty (with the Hittites) and an enormous influential family, the stories of Ramses have been retold through generations.”

While Dr Hawass sent a video message, Dr Waziri arrived in person with an Egyptian entourage – and his mummified cats and lion cub – to oversee the launch.
Huge obelisks with cartouches celebrating his reign have also been found throughout Egypt.

Dr Waziri said Ramses II drove “me crazy” as the pharaoh was found throughout Egypt, in Luxor, Saqqara and all the way to Abu Simbel in the south.

“He has been following us everywhere!”

Dr Waziri said evidence of Ramses had been found throughout Egypt, not just Cairo and, if inspired by the Ramses exhibition, recommended Australians seek out a visit to Saqqara.

“It’s a very virgin area (for unexplored tombs). We went there April 2018, a couple of months taking the debris out. Then, then we found the cachet of animal mummies. We found 500 mummified cats. You’re gonna see some of them.

“The days later we found baby lions eight up to 10 months old. We found five! You are going to see one here.”

And the highlight?

“Enjoy it, piece by piece.”


Egyptologist Dr Mostafa Waziry with Australian Museum CEO Kim McKay in front of a coffin of Ramses. Photograph: James Alcock / Australian Museum

Ramses & The Gold of the Pharaohs is now on at the Australian Museum.


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