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Neanderthal Museum
Talstraße 300
40822 Mettmann
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Museum and Discovery site are open from Tue to Sun 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
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Special exhibition


Mummies – Journey to Eternity

November 23rd 2013 to April 27th 2014

In autumn 2013, the exhibition „Mummies – Journey to Eternity“ will bring the splendor of ancient Egypt to the Neander Valley. The exhibition will show original exhibits from the Egyptian Museum in Florence. Mysterious mummies, magnificent grave goods and enigmatic deities will give visitors an idea of ancient Egyptian religious concepts. The ancient Egyptian belief in the afterlife is one of the most fascinating topics in archaeology today. Graves are the most important source of knowledge about ancient Egyptian culture. Nowhere else can we learn so much about the religious beliefs as well as the everyday lives of the ancient Egyptians.

The exhibition focuses on religious concepts of the afterlife, on methods of mummification and embalming, and on the role the sarcophagus played in the cult of the dead. Additionally, ritual and everyday objects that served as grave goods will be on display.

The afterlife

In ancient Egypt, death did not represent the end of life. Rather, it was seen as a mere moment of transformation into another form of life that continued into the afterlife. For this afterlife, the body had to be preserved. Only then was it possible for the soul to return to the body it left at the moment of death.

Therefore, the ancient Egyptians strived to keep the dead from decomposing by embalming them. Mummies represent the quest for immortality. In order to be able to preserve the body for an eternal afterlife, the Egyptians developed a very complicated process of embalming. It took up to 70 days. In this period, the brain was removed, along with most organs from the abdominal cavity and the torso. The body was filled and covered with natron in order to draw out all the water. Then the body cavities were filled with cloth and preservative resins and afterwards the whole body was wrapped in linen bandages. The internal organs were treated separately and stored in four so-called canopic jars. The heart remained inside the mummy. Visitors to the special exhibition will see several mummies and mummified body parts, a set of canopic jars, and many other objects that illustrate the burial process.

Sarcophagi, graves and grave goods

Sarcophagi further protected the body – both from decomposition and from desecration of the grave. Some were box-shaped, others imitated the human form. Sometimes, they were very artfully decorated, for example with faces or hands and feet. Examples from different time periods will be on display in the exhibition. Indeed, the pyramids the pharaohs ordered to be built constituted an extremely elaborate form of protection for the graves.

The dead were given charms such as the Eye of Horus and other objects intended for the funerary cult. The dead were also provided with a large number of everyday objects so that they wouldn't want for anything in the afterlife.

The traveling exhibition was realized by expona museum exhibition network (Bolzano) and Contemporanea Progetti (Florence). The two curators Maria Cristina Guidotti and Flora Silvano, both from the Egyptian Museum in Florence, have created an exhibition with around 80 fascinating objects from the museums' collection.