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Extraordinary Treasures of Egypt’s Ramses the Great Go on Display in Paris

The sarcophagus of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II went on display in Paris on Friday in a rare international loan. It’s the star attraction in a blockbuster new exhibition that features nearly 200 ancient artefacts, some of which have never before left Egypt.

The Ramses II exhibition is on a tour that includes the United States and Australia, but only France is receiving the sarcophagus.

The loan was granted in recognition of the assistance from French scientists who helped save the mummy from decay following a previous visit to Paris in 1976.

The mummy itself has stayed behind this time, since Egyptian law now forbids transporting royal mummies abroad.

Benedicte Lhoyer, scientific advisor to the exhibition, told French news agency AFP that the “exceptional” loan was thanks to “unprecedented cooperation between France and Egypt”.

France has 54 antiquities teams working in Egypt, more than any other nation present in the country.

Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, ruled for more than 60 years during the 13th century BC. He oversaw major military conquests and monumental construction projects, while also finding time to father more than 100 children.

“In short, he was an extraordinary king,” said Lhoyer.

The yellow-painted cedar-wood sarcophagus, which depicts the recumbent king in bright colours with his arms crossed on his chest holding a sceptre and whip, was not actually Ramses II’s original coffin.

Inscriptions on the sarcophagus’ sides detail how his body was moved three times after his tomb in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings was raided by grave-robbers.

Its final resting place was discovered almost three millenia later, in 1881.

The immersive exhibition at La Grande Halle de la Villette in northeast Paris also features an abundance of statues, masks and jewellery from the period – more than 180 objects in total – as well as a 3D recreation of one of the king’s battles.

Egyptian relics have proved a hit in France in the past. Some 1.4 million people came to see an exhibition about Tutankhamun in Paris four years ago.

Around 10,000 people a day were reported to have visited the 1976 exhibition that saw Ramses II’s sarcophagus displayed at the Grand Palais in Paris.

The new exhibition, titled “Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs”, is at the Grande Halle de la Villette until 6 September.

Source : RFI