Egyptian culture and history
is best shown and preserved in the city's numerous museums.
Established in 1902, the Egyptian Museum boasts hundreds of
thousands of works, including over 1700 pieces from the
collection of the tomb of young pharaoh,
Museum of Islamic Arts, built in 1881, has an extensive
collection on early Islamic civilization; and the Coptic
Museum built in 1910, gives a comprehensive history of the
Coptic denomination in the country.
The Egyptian Museum is also known as the Museum of Egyptian
mentioned above, it is home to the most impressive
collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the
world. Although it owns 120,000 items, only a
representative amount are on display, the rest are
1981, then Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, ordered
the closing of the museum's Royal Mummy Room which
contains 27 royal mummies from the time of the
pharaohs. In 1985, it was reopened with a slightly
fewer display of kings and queens from the New
Kingdom. Currently, 9 mummies are on display.
The Pharaoh-Queen Hatshepsut,
whose corpse had been recently discovered, is one of
them. The pieces being displayed in the museum make
up only about a third of its substantial collection.
The Egyptian Museum
houses hundreds of images—discovered in temples and tombs—of
ancient gods and goddesses, such as Isis, Osiris, Horus, and Amon, and pharaohs, such as Khafre, Hatshepsut, Akhenaton,
and Ramses II.
There are also several of mummies from both Ancient Egypt
and the Greco-Roman culture that followed it. Another major
display is that of the Amarina Letters, cuneiform tablets
which present a major source of information about the
Hittites who were virtually unknown until the tablets were
studied and deciphered.
Perhaps the most
famous collection in the Egyptian Museum—and among
the most priceless—are the over one thousand
artifacts from the tomb of the young Pharaoh
Tutankhamun, uncovered by British archaeologists
Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, in 1922.
The tomb of Tutankhamun was made up of a passageway
and four connected chambers that were embellished
with wall paintings and dominated by a rich array of
objects. The thousands of artifacts consisted of
gold-covered chariots, chairs, beds, lamps, and
jewelry to finery, writing apparatus, and even a
lock of hair from the grandmother of Tutankhamun.
The remains of the
young pharaoh was placed inside three coffins, the head
adorned with a gold mask inlaid with lapis lazuli and strips
of colored glass. The tomb’s discovery gave the world a very
good idea of the splendor of royal life in Egypt during
In 1967, the first detailed X-ray study of the mummies in
the Egyptian Museum, was performed by a team from the
University of Michigan. Since then, electron probe analysis
of hair has become standard procedure to prove family
relationships between individual mummies.
Other museums in Cairo showcase collections associated to
more current themes. The Al Gawhara Palace Museum,
established in 1811 in the Ottoman style and the Mahmoud
Khalil Museum built in 1963 contain works by
Post-Impressionists Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Peter
Paul Rubens, and other European and Egyptian painters known