Friday,14 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1378, (25 -31 January 2018)
Friday,14 December, 2018
Issue 1378, (25 -31 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

The flying mummy of Ramses I

One hundred years in the United States was not enough to qualify for a green card for the mummy of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses I, writes Zahi Hawass

We have previously discussed a mummy from the ancient site of Saqqara. This article will examine the case of a mummy that was believed to have originally been in the cache found by the Abdel-Rasoul family in 1871 in Luxor and transported to Cairo in 1881. The mummy was then sold to the Niagara Falls Museum in Canada. 

Arne Eggebrecht, a famous German Egyptologist, later went to visit this museum, and when he saw the mummy he theorised that it was that of a king. Bonnie Speed, the director of the Michael C Carlos Museum in the US city of Atlanta, and Peter Lacovara, its curator, decided to purchase the mummy. They raised the idea with the authorities in Atlanta, and many citizens, including children, contributed money for the purchase. Some $2 million was raised in a very short period of time. 

Various Egyptologists then studied the mummy, and all the evidence suggested that it belonged to Ramses I, the first Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty. When I discovered that the mummy belonged to a king, I asked Bonnie to return it because he was a king, and the mummy of a king should be in Egypt. Bonnie was nice enough to agree, and I travelled to Atlanta with Mohamed Farid Khamis, an Atlanta businessman, and my friend the journalist and writer Adel Hamouda.

Khamis donated $100,000 to the museum, and I took the mummy back to Egypt on Air France. While I was on the flight, the lady sitting next to me asked me about my work. I told her that I was an Egyptologist and that in the hold of the plane there was a mummy I was taking back to Cairo. As a result, the lady could not sleep and was frightened throughout the flight.

When we arrived in Cairo, Ramses was received as a king by hundreds of journalists. We threw a fabulous party at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to thank Bonnie for her great gift. A new wing was then created at the Luxor Museum called the “Golden Age of Egypt” to which we moved the mummy of Ahmose, who expelled the Hyksos from Egypt and founded the New Kingdom, and the mummy of Ramses I, a minor king who ruled for only a short time. 

When I arrived in Luxor, all the media neglected the mummy of Ahmose and welcomed that of Ramses. When then president Hosni Mubarak opened the new wing and saw the mummy of Ramses, I told him that though he had lived in the US for more than 100 years he had been very upset because he had not got a green card.

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