Brazil Nat’l Museum reclaims its expertise in Egyptology

The Egyptology Week begins this Monday, featuring items salvaged from the fire that tore down the venue in 2018. ‘Egyptology is still going strong. We took a blow but kept going. We resisted,’ said Pedro Von Seehausen, one of the organizers.

Thais Sousa

São Paulo – For the seventh year on year, the Rio de Janeiro National Museum is hosting its Egyptology Week. This year’s event is marked by the efforts to keep the institution active despite the fire that razed it on September 2, 2018. “It’s a way of showing that we’re still working with Egyptology. Lots of people were saying Egyptology is over in Brazil. Egyptology is still going strong. We took a blow but kept going. We resisted,” said Pedro Von Seehausen (pictured above), one of the event’s organizers, who’s currently pursuing a PhD in Archaeology from the National Museum/UFRJ.

The week will run from this Monday (30) to October 4 at the auditorium of the Horto Botânico, a National Museum annex building in São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro. Even though the venue is open to the public, this is the first time the press will be allowed in since the fire.

The heart-scarab amulet found in Sha Amun En Su’s sarcophagus

So far, over 300 Egypt-related items have been salvaged. “We still hold the biggest Egyptology collection in Brazil,” said Von Seehausen. Eleven Egyptian items that survived the fire will be on display during the event.

One of them is Sha Amun En Su’s heart-scarab. “This might be one of the main pieces, because it has never been shown to the public before. It used to be a part [it was sitting inside the coffin], it was Sha Amun En Su’s amulet. The sarcophagus had been closed for 2,700 years. We were aware of it [the scarab] thanks to a CAT scan. When the fire happened, we did research work so we could find the scarab alongside the eight other amulets,” he revealed.

A virtual reality mummy

One of the items in the collection was a 2,000-year-old mummy that had been purchased by (Brazilian emperor) Dom Pedro I. Known as the Roman Mummy, it was lost in the fire, but got recreated in virtual reality with a CAT scan. The mummy will be on show in partnership with the Rio de Janeiro Pure and Applied Mathematics Institute.

For this event, the Museum relied on financial support from Capes (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) to bring in researchers from Brazil, France and Argentina. “This is very special to me. I’ve been a student at the Museum since 2012. It’s where I graduated and learned all of the museology concepts. This has always been a very important event to me. We have welcomed several very important communities. It’s a form of resistance,” said Von Seehausen.

Egyptology Week will also include lectures and debates. Researchers slated to speak include Brazilians and Argentinians from various institutions; Dr. Ivan Guermeur, of Paris’ École Pratique des Hautes Études; and Isabelle Régen, PhD, also from France, who’s in charge of excavating one of the biggest tombs in Egypt.

Quick facts

National Museum Egyptology Week
Sep 30-Oct 4 starting 8:30am
National Museum, Horto Botânico Auditorium– São Cristóvão – Rio de Janeiro
Program & registration:

Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil

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