Hold on to your hieroglyphics, because there’s a rather peculiar feline affair unfolding at the Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition, currently gracing Sydney after its globe-trotting rendezvous in San Francisco and Paris.
Picture this: a 2,500-year-old cat mummy stealing the limelight. Yes, you heard it right—a cat mummy.
I know, I know, I’m usually a fan of live cats too, but this is a chance to witness a piece of ancient purr-fection.
This exhibition is basically a pilgrimage for cat enthusiasts, paying homage to none other than Bastet, the OG cat god, at the Australian Museum.
The cat mummy in question was unearthed south of Cairo at Saqqara, a burial site so ancient it makes our modern problems seem like a mere drop in the archaeological ocean.
Not a Cat Person? That’s Okay!Now, worshippers back in the day had a wild belief system.
Mummified animals weren’t just Instagrammable artifacts; they were either considered deities or sent off as offerings to the gods.
Salima Ikram, our go-to mummy expert at the American University of Cairo, dropped the knowledge bomb: “People would make devotional offerings in the form of animals as mummies.”
Apparently, it had more pizzazz than your run-of-the-mill stone or wooden offerings.
And hold up—it’s not just about cat mummies.
Oh no, there are scarab mummies (that’s right, the beetle kind), a crocodile, a mongoose, and even a lion cub mummy strutting their stuff, well not exactly strutting.
Now, if dead animals aren’t exactly your cup of sarcophagus tea, we’ve got an alternative for you—coffins!
Ramses II’s cedar coffin is making its exclusive appearance in Sydney, only the second city to host this wooden wonder.
Fun fact: it was repurposed for Ramses II, the recycling pharaoh—he was green before it was woke.
In 1909, French Egyptologist Georges Daressy noted that Ramses II’s coffin style predates the ID of its final occupant. It’s like an ancient episode of CSI—the Coffin Style Investigation.
Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves pointed the finger at Horemheb as the probable owner of a particular coffin, Inv. Cairo CG 61020.
Face off, anyone?
According to Mr. Reeves, Horemheb’s facial features are the golden ticket here. It’s all about that canopic jar lid discovered in his tomb (KV 57)—the facial similarities are basically shouting, “I belong to Horemheb!”
Hold onto your virtual reality hats, though, because this isn’t just about dead royals and their coffins.
We’ve got gold galore—think stone sculptures, limestone paintings, bling-worthy jewellery, and artsy artifacts that could make any Instagram influencer green with envy. And for the tech-savvy, there’s a VR room waiting to teleport you to Abu Simbel, the playground of temples built by the OG himself, Ramses II.
Speaking of Ramses II, the exhibition is throwing it back to the good ol' “New Kingdom” days (1539-1075 BC) when Ramses was ruling the Egyptian roost for a huge 67 years.
But here’s the juicy part—according to Nicky Nielsen, senior lecturer in Egyptology, Ramses wasn’t just a king; he was the original king of propaganda.
He was so into self-celebration that he re-inscribed monuments dedicated to others, making it look like they were cheering for him. Talk about ancient fake news! With 162 kids and a 67-year reign, Ramses’ propaganda game was stronger than your morning coffee.
So, whether you’re here for the dead cats, coffins with a side of mystery, or just soaking in the glory of ancient bling, the Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition is a must-see.
It kicked off the party on Nov. 18, 2023, and you’ve got until May 19, 2024, to time-travel through the life and times of the OG recycling pharaoh.
Don’t miss out, Sydney—it’s history with a side of meow-wow!