MADRID – The Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo is due to open in October and will house more than 50,000 archaeological pieces at a 50-hectare site near the pyramids of Giza.
Construction of the center on the outskirts of Egypt’s capital city is nearing completion after it was started 18 years ago.
Visitors will be greeted by an 83-ton colossus of Ramses II in the lobby of the vast museum, which explores ancient Egyptian civilization.
But the public will not be able to admire some of the most iconic pieces from Ancient Egypt, such as the bust of Nefertiti and the Rosetta stone, as they are among a number of items the country’s government has been trying to recover.
Archaeologist Zahi Hawass, former antiquities minister for Egypt, is one of the people who has been working to recover the country’s stolen heritage.
He said in an interview with EFE that he will recover all the assets that have been “pillaged.”
He added that it is important to raise awareness of the responsible governments, including France and the Netherlands, which have both recognized that many items in their possession will have to be returned to Egypt.
The Egyptologist visited Madrid to give a conference as part of the exhibition Tutankhamen: His Tomb and Its Treasures.
It will be the last trip the pharaoh’s trousseau makes because when the GME opens the treasures will be permanently housed there.
Hawass said the Tutankhamen collection will never travel again and added: “He will stay in Cairo all his life.”
The exhibition is a unique opportunity to enter the archeological world of Ancient Egypt, including the burial chambers and artifacts of the young pharaoh which were discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.
Tutankhamen’s tomb and the more than 5,000 objects within it have made him one of the most famous pharaohs in history, despite only reigning from 1332 to 1323 BC and dying at the age of 18.
Hawass said the grave is unique because when it was found it was completely intact and due to the death – five months after the discovery – of Lord Carnarvon, who funded the search for the tomb, which sparked the legend of the curse of Tutankhamen.
He added that grave robbers had tried to break into the site a number of times but police at the Valley of the Kings managed to scare them away and seal the entrance.
Some time later, the construction of the tomb of Ramses VI blocked the entry and prevented the items from falling into the hands of thieves.
When Carter discovered it, he found the grave intact with 5,398 objects.
One of the most famous items is the pharaoh’s golden mask, a work of art made of 11kg of solid gold.
Although there are still a number of mysteries surrounding Ancient Egypt, new technologies have gradually been revealing many of its secrets.
In 2010, Hawass performed genetic analysis and scans on Tutankhamen’s mummy, which helped determine that the boy king’s parents were siblings, causing him to have numerous health problems and bone disease.
A CT scan revealed Tutankhamen had a fracture in his left leg, probably caused by an accident suffered two days before his death and that he also had circulation problems and malaria, according to Hawass.