1st long-term exhibition on Egypt underway in Korea
Posted : 2019-12-23 14:25
Updated : 2019-12-23 18:07
|Egyptian Ambassador to Korea Hazem Fahmy, fourth from left, National Museum of Korea Director-General Bae Ki-dong, fifth from left, and Brooklyn Museum curator Edward Bleiberg, left, join a ribbon-cutting ceremony during the opening of the World Culture Gallery of the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Dec. 16. The gallery features a collection of 94 Egyptian artifacts belonging to the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. / Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
Artifacts travel to Seoul ahead of 2020 opening of Cairo museum
By Yi Whan-woo
A long-term exhibition featuring ancient Egyptian artifacts is taking place for the first time in Korea.
|A relief of Ramses II|
|Mummy of Thothirdes, an Egyptian priest who is believed to have died between 768 B.C. and 545 B.C.|
|Coffin of Thothirdes|
The National Museum of Korea previously hosted special exhibitions of Egyptian artifacts in 2009 and 2016, respectively, with each lasting a couple of months.
The 2019 program is being held in cooperation with Brooklyn Museum in New York City, showcasing 94 artifacts including mummies, coffins and sculptures dating from 4100 B.C. to 2 A.D.
All displayed items are part of the permanent collection of Brooklyn Museum.
The National Museum of Korea planned the exhibition in celebration of opening of the World Culture Gallery, which has been expanded from the Asia Culture Gallery that consisted of historical, artistic and cultural objects from China, India, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.
One of the highlights is a relief of Ramses II in limestone. It is suggested it came from the temple of Ramses II at Abydos and was carved within the first two years of his reign.
The exhibition also shows the mummy and wooden coffin of priest Thothirdes. Carbon-14 dating, a scientific method used to determine the date of archaeological samples, indicates that Thothirdes died between 768 B.C. and 545 B.C., supporting the 26th Dynasty date suggested by the style of his coffin.
A celebratory reception at the museum, Dec. 16, drew Egyptian Ambassador to Korea Hazem Fahmy, National Museum of Korea Director-General Bae Ki-dong, and Brooklyn Museum curator Edward Bleiberg, as well as foreign envoys and other members of the diplomatic corps in Seoul.
Ambassador Fahmy expressed hope the Egypt gallery will open "your eyes to a tiny sample of the wonders and mysteries of ancient Egypt."
Referring to the planned opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo next year, Fahmy also said the Seoul exhibition will hopefully "stimulate your desires to visit the land of the pharaohs."
"It is the first of its kind ever in Korea to span a period of two full years … Having such a gallery in Korea has a special significance, being in a country that has its own ancient civilization and deep roots in history, and a state of development that carved its own big mark on the present global arena," he said.
The ambassadors noted these items show how ancient Egyptians worked hard in pursuit of immortality and have advanced science and technology accordingly, such as mummification and construction of pyramids.
"It might be worth mentioning in this regard that with all the advanced technology the world commands today, we are still not able to discover the secrets behind many of the techniques and technologies used by the pharaohs."
Director-General Bae said Egypt, as the cradle of one of the four major ancient civilizations, is a "meaningful starting point" to understand the world's cultures.
"This how we have decided to come up with the country's first-ever Egypt gallery on a long term," he said.
Noting Egypt is located on the easternmost tip of Africa and Korea is on Eurasia's eastern front, Bae said the museum, through the exhibition, is expected to help raise awareness here toward Egyptian civilization while offering foreigners a chance to learn about Korea's culture.
The World Culture Gallery, according to Bae, will showcase a rotation of artifacts from other parts of the world every one or two years after the Egypt exhibition.
"And we'll take the Egypt exhibition as a moment for the gallery to develop into a world culture museum," he said.
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