The Pointe-à-Callière museum presents the 3000 years on the Nile exhibition, devoted to three millennia of ancient Egypt, through 320 objects from the Museo Egizio, in Turin, Italy. A look not at the pharaohs, but at the ancient Egyptian people, mainly craftsmen and farmers.
Pointe-à-Callière has already collaborated in 2018 with the Turin museum, for Queens of Egypt. You should know that the place has one of the most important Egyptological collections in the world and has had privileged relations with Cairo Egyptologists for many moons. On the occasion of its 200th anniversary, in 2024, the Museo Egizio will present an exceptional exhibition, but before its opening, it agreed to loan objects from its collection to Pointe-à-Callière.
This allowed the Cité d’archéologie et d’histoire de Montréal to mount this unique exhibition on the Egyptian people and their fascination with life after death. “In ancient Egypt, some 40% of agricultural production was reserved for the preparation of tombs,” says Anne Élisabeth Thibault, general manager of Pointe-à-Callière. It gives an idea of this rather fascinating Egyptian civilization. »
The exhibition approaches these 3000 years of Egyptian history by the Nile, this immense river which is at the center of this civilization marked by historical periods characterized by invasions, wars, commercial exchanges and reigns having their own particularities, taking into account the different pharaohs that were Cheops, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, Ramses II or Cleopatra. These episodes are all marked by their own artistic styles linked to the evolution of techniques and the materials used.
This variety is noted in the aesthetic changes of the vases, the pottery having evolved over the millennia. It is also interesting to discover the objects which illustrate the interest of the Egyptians for science, in particular for the calculation of time, with this fragment of a primitive sundial (gnomon). And to see their sense of innovation in the transmission of knowledge and the celebration of life, with the definition of a unique hieroglyphic writing, since it is essentially figurative. Made up of signs evoking animals, gods, plants or humans, it recounts their daily life.
These writings, we find them on funerary stelae, of course, but also on ouchebtis, these small statuettes generally carved in earthenware and which included writings on the disappeared person. They were placed in tombs because they were supposed to “liberate the deceased” and work in their place in the afterlife!
A section is devoted to the family, with linen fabrics, explanations of how to style one’s hair, food, raising children and the role of the woman who, at the time, could divorce and resume her dowry, work and participate in society, as the case of Cleopatra showed. “Society was, all things considered, very advanced,” says Anne Élisabeth Thibault.
A sculpture in greywacke, a sedimentary rock that is often metamorphosed, which allows it to be polished and give sumptuous reflections.
There is also, in pink granite from Aswan, a beautiful idealized statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II dating from the New Kingdom period, between 1539 and 1292 BC, the golden age of Egyptian art. A great warrior, the bulging pharaoh is depicted kneeling in a position of humility, offering Ra two jars of beer and wine to sweeten the sun god!
Accompanied by explanations of mummification and Egyptian beliefs, the mummies on display are impressive. There is also a whole part of the exhibition devoted to animal mummies, animals having had a special place in the life of the Egyptians. As they were going to accompany them in their afterlife, they were also mummified. We can therefore see authentic mummies of cats, crocodiles, snakes, frogs, etc. “Millions of cat mummies have been found in Egyptian temples,” notes Anne Élisabeth Thibault.
Here is an exhibition perhaps less spectacular than the previous ones devoted to Egypt, but just as interesting. The scenography is extremely neat. Spaces will particularly appeal to the youngest, with interactive elements, games on screen, questionnaires and the broadcast of a documentary on the daily life of Egyptians in Antiquity. A space is devoted to understanding Egyptian society at the time with explanations of each type of citizen, from the farmer to the pharaoh, including the craftsman, the soldier, the architect, the scribe, the noble, the monk or the vizier.
An exhibition for the whole family, a brilliant and instructive display that raises awareness, once again, of the excellence of this refined civilization, with marked traditions and concerned with well-being both on Earth and in the other world. of the.