Explore symbolic artifacts and delve into the spiritual realms of ancient Egyptian culture with Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum, continuing this month at the Royal Ontario Museum. The first Canadian stop of this exclusive exhibit’s North American tour features a selection of rare items that have never before left the British Museum or have not been exhibited in many years.
The unique developments of more than 3,000 years of Egyptian art are chronicled in six main sections and two complementary rooms, the Funerary Arts and Gold rooms. Commencing with the pre-Dynastic period and extending through to the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, the exhibit features 144 objects that reflect the diversity and richness of ancient Egyptian history and culture.Throughout Egyptian history, objects of art were not created for purely aesthetic appreciation, but rather, to fulfill a magical or religious function, usually in a tomb or a temple. Column Capital with Hathor Emblem, a large column fragment depicting the goddess of love, music and beauty with cow’s ears and a curled wig, is typical of the pieces bestowed to the gods or created in their honour.Gold, considered a substance of the gods and possesed of divine attributes, was used copiously and revered by both royals and commoners. The Gold Room brings together a collection of rare gold jewellery, statuettes and other precious metal art forms, including the Figure of Amun, a silver and gold cult statuette of the god Amun.The Funerary Arts room examines the importance Egyptian culture placed on living well in the Afterlife. The Mummy as Statue exemplifies the belief that mummification was an essential part of preserving the body and ensuring eternal survival of the deceased’s spirit.
Other highlights of this extraordinary exhibit include coffins, mummy masks, sculpture and papyrus scrolls, and many more artistic accomplishments.
Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum is presented by the Royal Ontario Museum and continues to June 6, 2004. For more information, call 416-586-8000, or visit www.rom.on.ca.—Linda Luong