Written by Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan
30 November 2023
Ok, brace yourselves. We know, we know, dead cats aren’t exactly our go-to Insta material either, but trust us on this one. The Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition just dropped in Sydney after waltzing through San Fran and Paris, and it’s bringing a 2500-year-old cat mummy. Because, why not?
Now, we’re all about live kitties, but the chance to peep at a cat that’s seen more centuries than we’ve had Monday mornings? Too intriguing to pass up. And guess what? This feline relic is part of the whole homage extravaganza to Bastet, the OG cat god, at the Australian Museum.
Picture this: a cat mummy unearthed south of Cairo at Saqqara, an Egyptian burial site older than grandma’s secret recipes. Dr Mostafa Waziry, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, spilled the beans at a media conference, revealing these mummies were only discovered a few years ago. Even the locals haven’t given these pieces the once-over.
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. Dr 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’s scarab mummies – that’s right, the beetle kind – a crocodile, a mongoose and even a lion cub mummy strutting its stuff. Well, not exactly strutting.
Now, if you’re not feeling the love for ancient felines or coffins, fear not! The exhibition’s got a gold rush waiting for you.
From stone sculptures and limestone paintings to dazzling jewellery and ornate artifacts, it’s a treasure trove of ancient bling. And, for the tech-savvy explorers, there’s a virtual-reality room ready to teleport you to Abu Simbel, the site of two temples built by none other than Ramses II.
But who was Ramses II, really? Dr Nicky Nielsen spills the tea, dubbing him the king of propaganda. Apparently, Ramses had a knack for re-inscribing monuments, turning them into billboards for his achievements. Talk about ancient fake news! With 162 children and a whopping 69-year rule, Ramses had ample time to peddle his legacy.
Fake news or not, this collection is no small feat – it’s the most expensive Egyptian exhibition ever gracing Australian soil. 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 & the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition is a must-see.
You’ve got until 19 May 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!