The Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt

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Cairo's Museum of Antiquities

The museum is a must-see in Cairo if only to see Tutankhamen's Sarcophagus and the real bodies of the Mummies in the Mummies Crypt. Arriving at the famous Museum of Antiquities in the heart of Cairo after seeing the Pyramids we could see a long queue of people waiting for tickets. But the driver dropped us right outside the front and presumably because we were with a recognised tour guide we walked straight through.

The heat was still pretty oppressive but more pleasant in the garden at the front of the museum. However entering the Museum of Antiquities was a relief from the persistent sun.

Exploring the Museum of Antiquities

Cairo's Museum of Antiquities is a large two storey building packed with relics arranged in general by age so you can start in the Old Kingdom of Egypt and make your way through successively more recent dynasties into the New Kingdom. I suspect you could spend an entire day in the museum but with Ahmed guiding us we worked our way through the major exhibits in a couple of hours.

I am not going to try and relay everything we learnt but Ahmed had an easy way of explaining what we were seeing and the children soon knew how to distinguish between the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and appreciate the significance of an Egyptian King show wearing both. They were however caught out by Ahmed showing the particular statue of an Egyptian King and asking whether it was a man or woman. Despite its appearance Ahmed explained that it was one of just two statues in the Museum of Antiquities of Hatshepsut - the only woman to be King who managed to say as King for more than 20 years by a combination of dressing as a man and it seems a carefully laid story about her relationship to the Egyptian Gods!

Tutankhamen's Sarcophagus

Tutankhamen is probably one of the most famous, if not the most famous, of all Egyptian Pharaohs but as we learned he was hardly important in his time. Tutankhamen's death appears to continue to court controversy but it is clear that he suffered from a bad leg during his reign (the Museum has lots of his walking sticks) and he died young. Ahmed also explained that the manner of his burial also indicated that it was unexpected as they had no time to excavate a proper tomb for him and he was actually buried in a tomb reserved for one of the generals of the army.

With this in mind we were staggered by the ornate burial paraphernalia including three sarcophagus that fitted inside each other like a russian doll. The body, encased in these was then placed in three successively bigger cases before being put into the tomb. The Museum of Antiquities has a whole section for Tutankhamen culminating in a section which shows the famous death mask. This area gets fairly crowded but off-season as we were it was not a problem.

The Mummies Crypt

Having seen Tutankhamen's death mask we had 20-30 minutes to ourselves and unanimously decided to use it to see the Mummies. Unfortunately the Mummies crypt costs extra and in terms of time spent in their (we probably spent 15-20 mins) it may not seem like value for money. However to see the real bodies of the famous kings and pharaohs we had learned about was well worth it our view. The bodies are really well preserve - you can see their hear, fingernails and teeth. There is a small amount of information about each on the casing and this is more than enough to understand what and who you're seeing. This was one of the highlights of our Holiday!