Queens of the Nile

I was already interested in royalty when I discovered the Egyptian pharaohs. My parents had friends who had lived in Israel for some time and they had been visiting Egypt. Back in the Netherlands we sometimes visited them and I loved their photo albums and books, especially the ones about the pyramids in Egypt. At the time I of course did some research to find out more about the pharaohs and hieroglyphics. But to be honest nowadays there is nothing left in my bookcases or scrap books.

However when I heard about the new exhibition in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, The Netherlands, I thought I’d give it a try. “Queens of the Nile” tells the story of the wives of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs during the New Kingdom period (1500 to 1000 BC). It was a nice surprise to find an exhibition that doesn’t really expect you to have much expertise on the subject. Over all there was not too much, but also not too little information, and everything was nicely divided into topics. At the start there was also a clear overview on the wall of the pharaohs and their wives. I also loved the portraits of the women on the walls. There was quite a variety of items on display, from small to big statues, to grave goods, jewelry, vases, papyrus, and even the sarcophagus cover of Queen Nefertari. The museum has 245 objects from the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, on loan.

The exhibition mainly focuses on the Queens Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti and Nefertari, the most powerful Queens of Egypt. A pharaoh could have many wives, but only one of them was the “Great Queen”, who managed the harem, ran the palace and sometimes had significant political power. Even the tomb of Queen Nefertari has been reconstructed. The exhibition follows the Egyptian Queens from life into death and also gives some information about the pharaohs and the Valley of Queens, as well as some Egyptian Gods.

The exhibition can be visited from 18 November 2016 to 17 April 2017. A book has been published in connection with the exhibition. “Koninginnen van de Nijl. Macht en schoonheid in het Nieuwe Rijk (1539-1077 v.Chr.)” by Prof. Dr. Olaf Kaper of the University of Leiden costs € 19,95 and contains 152 pages, full colour, but in Dutch only it seems.

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