Is it possible that a famed Egyptian pharaoh is
holding court in Atlanta? Visitors can decide for themselves when
“Ramesses I: The Search for the Lost Pharaoh” opens
at the Carlos Museum on April 26.
The mummy believed to be that of Ramesses I, founder of one of Egypt’s
most powerful dynasties and ruler of Egypt from 1292–90 B.C.,
will be the centerpiece of the exhibition, on view through Sept.
14. The historical, archaeological and scientific evidence of the
mummy’s identity will be presented, along with art and artifacts
from Ramesses I’s reign.
Since acquiring the mummy in 1999, the museum’s intention
has been to return it to its rightful place in Egypt. With the Egyptian
government’s recent acceptance of that offer, upon conclusion
of this exhibition the transfer will be made with all appropriate
celebration and fanfare. The Carlos Museum is the only U.S. venue
for this exhibition before “the mummy returns.”
“This exhibition has been one amazing journey, and we are
thrilled it is finally a reality,” said Carlos Director Bonnie
Speed. “The circumstances surrounding the mummy’s appearance
in this country in the 1860s, the 1999 Carlos Museum purchase made
possible with the assistance of the Atlanta community, and the research
conducted to determine the mummy’s identity reveal an extraordinary
Indeed, the mummy’s route to Atlanta has been a scenic one.
It was purchased by a broker for the Niagara Falls Museum in the
1860s in Luxor, Egypt, at about the time a famous cache of royal
mummies at Deir el-Bahri was discovered by the Abed el-Rassul family
and partially sold off without the knowledge that it was the burial
place of Egypt’s most fabled pharaohs.
In the 1980s, German Egyptologist Arne Eggebrecht examined the mummy
in Niagara Falls and was the first to suggest it could be one of
the missing royal mummies. The position of its arms, crossed over
the chest, was reserved for royal mummies until the Late Dynas-tic
Period (525–343 B.C.).
The careful treatment of the body and other details of the mummification,
however, suggest an early date, as does radiocarbon dating of the
mummy, which places it in the New Kingdom (1570–1070 B.C.),
the era of Ramesses I. Perhaps the most compelling of all the evidence
is the physical resemblance of this mummy to the features of Seti
I and Ramesses II (“The Great”), son and grandson of
The mummy was acquired by the Carlos in 1999 as part of a historic
purchase of the Niagara Falls Museum’s entire collection of
Egyptian art and artifacts. Already the leading Southeastern museum
of ancient art, the Carlos’ purchase served as the impetus
for a major renovation of its Egyptian art galleries, where most
of those materials are now exhibited and well visited.
The Ramesses mummy, however, will be on view for the first time
when the exhibition opens in April.
Utilizing the resources of Emory to contribute to the existing knowledge
about the mummy, museum scholars collaborated with Emory Hospital’s
Department of Radiology to conduct CT-scanning, revealing elaborate
mummification techniques, including copious amounts of resin in
the skull, a practice usually lavished only on royal mummies.
Visiting scholars included James Harris, a physician who has investigated
dentition and conducted a series of cranio-facial measurements on
all the royal mummies in the Cairo Museum, and mummification expert
Salima Ikram, professor at American University in Cairo and a renowned
authority on mummification. Each has found the evidence compelling.
Included in the exhibition will be tomb objects and embalming equipment,
portrait sculpture, reliefs, archival photographs and papyri. Videos
of local ABC affiliate WSB-TV Channel 2’s primetime specials
“The Mystery of the Lost Mummy” and “Secrets of
the Missing Mummies” will run continuously.
Four computer stations will present a special interactive website
devoted to Ramesses and the evidence collected toward proving the
mummy’s identity. This website can be found at http://carlos.emory.edu/RAMESSES.
“This shows that amazing discoveries in the most unlikely
of places are still to be made,” said Curator of Ancient Egyptian,
Nubian and Near Eastern Art Peter Lacovara (see
First Person). “It is exciting to now
be collaborating more closely with our colleagues in Egypt, to be
moving closer to the moment when we return the mummy to the people
of Egypt, and to have an opportunity to share an exhibition with
visitors before its departure.”
The Carlos Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.–5
p.m.; Thursday evenings until 9 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 5
p.m. There is a $5 suggested donation for admission to the museum’s
to host Egypt conference
The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), whose U.S. offices
are housed on the Emory campus, will host a panel discussion sponsored
by the U.S. State Department on Thursday, April 24, from 7–9
p.m. in the Carter Center’s Day Chapel.
The panel will discuss Egypt’s view of its own past. Modern
Egyptians have struggled to establish their own special claim on
the pharaohs of old, and their ongoing discussion—both scholarly
and popular—of that proud legacy remains a critical element
in their sense of modern identity.
The panel will feature Jere Bacharach, ARCE director and professor
of history at the University of Washington, along with Fayza Haikal
of the American University in Cairo; Cary Petry of Northwestern
University; and Donald Reid of Georgia State University.
Admission is free and open to the public. For more information,
or call 404-712-9854.