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Hold on to your hieroglyphics, Ramses II is here with his cat

Hold on to your hieroglyphics, Ramses II is here with his cat

Bust of Ramses the Great

Ramses II exclusive to Sydney

Aswan Abu SImbel Great temple with colossus of Ramesses II
Aswan Abu Simbel Great Temple with colossus of Ramesses II

Ramses and the gold of the pharaohs

Hold on to your hieroglyphics, Ramses II is here with his cat

Okay, brace yourselves. We know, we know, dead cats aren’t exactly our go-to Instagram material, but trust us on this one. The Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition just dropped anchor in Sydney after waltzing through San Fran and Paris, and it’s bringing a 2500-year-old cat mummy – because, why not?

Statue of a cat at the Australian Museum Ramses II exhibition
Statue of a cat at the Australian Museum Ramses II exhibition

Bastet the OG cat god

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.

Mummies: cat, lion cub, crocodile and other animals at Ramses II exhibition
Mummies: cat, lion cub, crocodile and other animals at Ramses II exhibition

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.

Rare coffin of Ramses II
Rare coffin of Ramses II

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.

Ramses II & the Gold of the Pharaohs
Ramses II & the Gold of the Pharaohs

More than just cat mummies

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 their 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 jewelry 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.

Ramses II & the Gold of the Pharaohs
Ramses II & the Gold of the Pharaohs

Who was Ramses II?

But hold up, 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.

Pendant of Mereret
The centre of this pendant is made from carnelian. Above can be seen a lotus flower, and below, curving around the carnelian centre, is a floral pattern of turquoise and lapis lazuli. The outer section is golden. Cairo Egyptian museum-pendant of Mereret-JE 53070; gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, carnelian; H. 4.6cm; 12th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom; Dashur; Upper Floor, Room 4

Fake news or not, this collection is no small feat – it’s the most expensive Egyptian exhibition ever gracing the 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. It kicked off the party on November 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!

Tickets: Adult from $38, Concession from $32, Child from $25.

Abu Simbel at night
Abu Simbel at night

For more information and to book tickets, visit: australian.museum/exhibition/ramses/


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