Kings of the Sun: National Museum now exhibiting 300 objects that are almost 5,000 years old

The large-scale exhibition, which opens today, combines artifacts from ancient Egypt with modern multimedia technologies

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 31.08.2020 14:37 (updated on 31.08.2020)

The National Museum’s new exhibition Kings of the Sun, open from Monday, sheds light on thousands of years of Egyptian history. The exhibition, in the museum’s Historical Building on Prague’s Wenceslas Square, runs until February 7, 2021.

The civilization of ancient Egypt, which has lasted for more than 3,000 years, has long fascinated archaeologists and the public. The National Museum — in cooperation with Charles University’s Czech Institute of Egyptology and Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities — will show a never-before-exhibited collection of approximately 300 objects that are almost 5,000 years old. The exhibition has been in preparation for several years, and the total insured value of the items is 1 billion CZK.

By combining original artifacts and modern multimedia technologies, the Kings of the Sun will let people experience the atmosphere of the great Egyptian rulers. The exhibition is designed for all ages.

“The Kings of the Sun exhibition is not only a dream come true for the National Museum and several generations of Czech Egyptologists, but also one of the most important exhibitions organized by the National Museum during its existence. For almost half a year, visitors to the National Museum will have the opportunity to admire the world-unique collection of Egyptian monuments that are thousands of years old,” Michal Lukeš, director general of the National Museum, said.

“The preparation of such an extensive international exhibition is always a very demanding matter, but I consider it almost a miracle that the Kings of the Sun managed to take place even in the current international situation with coronavirus infection. Many thanks to all those on the Czech and Egyptian side who contributed to this. Thanks to them, the Czech Republic can now boast an exhibition that is unparalleled in the world,” he added.

Ancient Egypt from the time of the Old Kingdom generally represents the first territorial state in the world history. Between the 27th and 22nd centuries BC there was an unprecedented boom in this civilization.

Kings of the Sun
Part of Kings of the Sun / via National Museum

The Abusir site is part of the pyramid fields stretching from present-day Cairo dozens of kilometers kilometers south to the Faiyum Oasis. During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, this area had the largest pyramid complexes of monarchs and burial grounds of members of their families as well as high dignitaries and even ordinary people.

Abusir, together with the neighboring Saqqara, represents the very center of this area, where the vast majority of royal and non-royal monuments that have survived to the present day are located.

Kings of the Sun refers to the rulers of the Fifth Dynasty, who worshiped the sun god Ra as the chief deity of the ancient Egyptian pantheon. Four of these rulers built their mortuary complexes in Abusir. Architecture, art and philosophy, as well as state governance reached their peak during their reign.

The greatest treasures from the third to the first millennium BC include the statues of King Neferefre — also called Raneferef. There is also an extensive collection of statues of Princess Sheretnebty and the scribe Maa-Nefer. Visitors will also see stone vessels, pottery, texts and reliefs from the royal complexes of the rulers of Abusir.

The exhibition includes items on loan from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza; and museums in Berlin, Leipzig, Hanover, Heidelberg, Hildesheim. and Frankfurt am Main.

kings of the sun
Part of Kings of the Sun / via National Museum

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Also on display are objects that the National Museum acquired as a Czechoslovak stake in the finds made by Charles University’s expeditions in Abusir. The Czech expeditions explored the temple complex of King Neferefre, which has one of the largest collections of royal statues from the time of the pyramid builders and a papyrus archive describing the cult and operation of the temple.

“For the first time outside the territory of Egypt, the Kings of the Sun exhibition presents the world’s greatest discoveries made by an expedition of the Czech Institute of Egyptology in the pyramid field in Abusir practically every year. Dozens of unique artifacts telling the story of the ancient Egyptian civilization of the pyramid builders can be seen in Prague. I am glad that together with the National Museum we were able to organize this exhibition for the Czech and world public,” Miroslav Bárta. the director of Czech archaeological research in Egypt and the vice-rector of Charles University,” said.

Charles University rector Tomáš Zima said the expeditions by the school’s Czech Institute of Egyptology are the largest Czech scientific expeditions working systematically outside the country. “Its results and discoveries —and this unique exhibition — is proof they can withstand comparisons with the highest world standards. I very much appreciate its contribution to Czech and world science,” he added.

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The National Museum is preparing an accompanying program with lectures by Czech Egyptologists, film evening, programs for children, guided tours and an Egyptology night in the museum.

More information can be found on the National Museum website and the National Museum’s Facebook page.