Ancient Egypt

Pharaohs of Egypt

at The Grimaldi Forum

by Kay Hare

I was invited to the press morning for the opening of the Golden Treasures of the Pharaohs. It is inspiring and unique that we have this on our doorsteps. The energy and work that has gone into preparing the exhibition is enormous. The floor is carpeted in a plush creamy tone which purposely gives the impression of sand. The discoveries are endless and beautifully presented to museum quality. Some of the items have never before left Cairo. It is a real delight to see and experience. I stayed for hours and I was really enthralled by the contemporary tone and the extraordinary animation work of Fleur de Papier which I will be reviewing in the next article. In the meantime this is the selected press release below. A big Thank you to Grimaldi Forum. 

ancient egypt

Golden Treasures of the Pharaohs,
2,500 Years of the Goldsmith’s Art in Ancient Egypt

 Introduction 

Every summer, the Grimaldi Forum Monaco produces a large thematic exhibition, dedicated to a major artistic movement, showcasing a cultural or heritage theme, or focusing on new creative developments. An occasion to highlight its assets and specificities: a 3,200-square metre space to be able to create in total freedom, the most powerful technological tools in the service of the exhibition design and the support of the best specialists in every field to ensure the scholarly quality of its exhibitions. 

In 2008 the Grimaldi Forum Monaco presented Queens of Egypt, an exhibition that remained in visitors’ memories. In the summer of 2018, Golden Treasures of the Pharaohs, 2,500 Years of the Goldsmith’s Art in Ancient Egypt will bring together more than 150 masterpieces from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, presenting a series of prestigious ensembles discovered in the royal and princely tombs of pharaonic Egypt. 

These exhibitions have benefitted from the expertise of Christiane Ziegler, exhibition curator, honorary director of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the Musée du Louvre, editor of the publication of the Mission Archéologique du Musée du Louvre à Saqqara (Egypt) and president of the Centre d’Archéologie Memphite. 

Discoveries as fabulous as those of Tutankhamen’s tomb and the treasures of Tanis did not fail to reinforce this myth. As did the treasures buried in the tombs of pharaohs belonging to our collective imagination, golden jewels often heightened with intensely coloured stones – dark blue lapis lazuli, green feldspar, red carnelian – and the vases made of gold bearing witness to the splendour of the lives of kings and their courtiers. 

The oldest date from the first dynasty: the bracelets discovered in King Djer’s tomb in Abydos. The goldwork of the time of the pyramids is illustrated by the gold jewels of King Sekhemkhet from his pyramid in Saqqara and an ensemble having belonged to Queen Hetepheres, mother of Khufu, buried at the foot of the large pyramid of Giza; her silver bracelets, the most highly valued metal, inlaid with butterflies, were particularly admired. In Dahshur and El Lahun, the pyramids of the 12th-dynasty sovereigns contained ornaments belonging to the princesses of the royal family: openwork “pectoral” pendants, a gold belt and delicate bracelets bearing witness to the refinement of this period, which is considered the apogee of Egyptian jewellery. 

The New Kingdom began with the ensemble of Queen Imhotep, mother of the pharaoh Ahmose, discovered in the necropolis of Dra’ Abu el-Naga’, on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes: a mirror with a gold disc, heavy bracelets and a “wide” necklace illustrate the magnificence of the period. Unfortunately, the tombs of these great monarchs dug into the cliffs of the Valley of the Kings were unscrupulously looted beginning in antiquity. It is difficult to imagine the vanished treasures once contained in the tombs of great kings such as Khufu, Thutmose III and Ramses II. An ornate set of jewels, diadem and earrings, belonging to a royal 

child of the 20th dynasty came from a hiding place in the same place. And while they do not contain remarkable jewels, the funerary objects of Yuya and Tjuyu, parents-in-law of Amenhotep III who had the privilege of being buried in the Valley of the Kings was really royal: sarcophagus, funerary masks and gold-plated objects. 

The royal tombs discovered in the delta in Tanis in 1939 have supplied a mass of jewellery and goldwork dating from around 1000 BC. Psusennes I and Sheshonq II, little-known pharaohs, had taken way in their tombs treasures that rivalled that of Tutankhamen: silver sarcophagus, gold masks, jewels, precious vases, and so on. Thus ends chronologically our exhibition, the tombs of later sovereigns not having been identified with the exception of those of the pharaohs of Sudanese origin who were buried in their native land. 

Beyond a presentation of magnificent ensembles illustrated by documents tracing their discovery, the exhibition also examines the status of these works, which are some of the oldest and most universal forms of artistic expression; what they reveal to us about the identity, the value, the rite and the body, on their social and economic importance. 

Reserved for an elite, and firstly for the gods (offerings, liturgical items, obelisks, gold-plated elements of temple architecture, etc.), the goldwork and jewellery worn by both men and women were attributes of power, sometimes a sign of extreme distinction. These jewels were endowed with a high market value in a society in which money was unknown (hence the looting of the tombs from earliest antiquity) and an exceptional magical value (linked to their material, colour and decoration). 

The production of this jewellery brought into play the use of precious materials and the mastery of elaborate techniques, a hierarchised human chain that went from the pharaoh, sole owner of the wealth of the country, to the richesses modest “necklace maker” via the squads of miners and the scribes keeping track of the gold. 

ancient Egypt

Highly sacrilegious, the looting of the royal tombs is also examined in the exhibition. Exceptional documentation on papyrus recounts the many trials that had taken place from the end of the New Kingdom. It concerns the Theban temples and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, with many details on the gangs of the thieves, the corruption of the highest officials, the description of the lootings, the quantity of gold stolen, melted down and divided among the accomplices. 

Some tombs, however, were spared the greedy looters, thus revealing remarkable pieces that were some of the most dazzling pieces of goldwork produced in Ancient Egypt.  

Opening hours: Open every day from 10 am to 8 pm Late night opening: Thursdays until 10 pm

Ticket price: presale tickets at €6 on www.grimaldiforum.com until 30 June 2018
Full price = €11. Concessions: groups (+ 10 people) = €9 – students (-25 on presentation ofID) = €9 – seniors (+65) = €9 – FREE for children under 18
Reduced price for visitors who have their SNCF ticket of that day: 9€

Guided tours = €9, Thursdays and Sundays at 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm subject to availability(maximum 25 people)
Audio guides = €5

Accessibility: Exhibition accessible to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility

Grimaldi Forum ticket office

Tel. +377 99 99 3000 – Fax +377 99 99 3001 – E-mail: online ticketing ticket@grimaldiforum.mc and FNAC points of sale.

Exhibition catalogue: Format: 24 x 28 cm. Texts in French. Paperback retail price: €29.Publication date: July 2018. Publisher: Hazan.

Exhibition publicity:

Hervé Zorgniotti Tel: 00 377 99 99 25 02 – hzorgniotti@grimaldiforum.mc

Nathalie Varley Tel: 00 377 99 99 25 03 – nvarley@grimaldiforum.mc

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