Queen Nefertari’s Egypt » Introduction


Queen Nefertari’s Egypt

Queen Nefertari’s Egypt celebrates the role of queens, goddesses and artisans in Egypt’s New Kingdom period (c. 1539–1075 BCE), when ancient Egyptian civilization was at its height of power. These women, including great royal wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers of pharaohs, are brought to life through refined statues, exquisite jewelry and personal objects, stone and painted sarcophagi (coffins), and votive steles (stone slabs), as well as items of daily life from the village of Deir el-Medina, home to the artisans who built the royal tombs. Drawn from the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, one of the most extensive collections of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts in the world, these sculptures, objects, reliefs, and paintings showcase the legacy of the women in Nefertari’s circle—whose status often verged on divine. Nefertari, whose name means “beautiful companion,” was one of the most celebrated queens of ancient Egypt and the Great Royal wife of pharaoh Ramesses II (reigned 1279–1213 BCE). As the first royal spouse, she was the favored consort of the pharaoh and she enjoyed a high regard, achieving an education in reading and writing hieroglyphs, typically reserved for the male scribes in the royal court. The exhibition also traces the journey made by the Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in preserving these materials for the Museo Egizio. Until the early 1900s, Nefertari was known only through a few sculptures, tomb paintings, and hieroglyphs related to Ramesses II. In 1904, Schiaparelli, then director of the Museo Egizio, rediscovered her tomb—the most richly decorated in the Valley of the Queens—confirming Nefertari’s revered status. Although the contents had been looted in ancient times, the brilliant murals decorating the tomb depict Nefertari’s path to immortality. Other significant discoveries in the village of Deir el-Medina reveal what daily life would have been like for the artisans who constructed Nefertari’s magnificent tomb.

Queen Nefertari’s Egypt casts light on royal life in the palace, the roles of women in ancient Egypt, the everyday life of artisans, and the powerful belief system and ritual practices around death and the afterlife.

Please note: This installation contains no mummified or other human remains, however the majority of the objects were removed from tombs, burials, or graves. Exhibition under the curatorship of Mr. Christian Greco and organized by StArt, in collaboration with the Museo Egizio, Turin, and the Portland Art Museum.


Queen Nefertari’s Egypt » Introduction