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Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Visit Cincinnati - And America - For The First Time

The sound of drills punctuates an otherwise silent corridor of the Cincinnati Museum Center, where museum curators, photographers and reporters have gathered to see the Pharaoh Hatshepsut, Egypt's longest-ruling woman, revealed for the first time ever in America. The large bust is part of the museum's upcoming exhibit, "Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs."

In fact, the collection Hatshepsut is a part of is one of the largest groups of ancient Egypt artifacts to ever travel, with more than 350 artifacts.

"This is the U.S. premiere," says Cody Hefner, director of communications for the Museum Center. "This has toured Europe, it has been in Victoria, Canada, but this is the first time in the United States. And actually, once it leaves Cincinnati Museum Center, it travels to Australia, so for everyone in America this is their shot to see this exhibition before it leaves for another year or so."

Other pieces include a bronze cat from 6th to 3rd century B.C., and a 3,000-year-old slab of limestone carved and painted with a man.

"The thing which is very nice is we have a whole figure," says Claudia Schindler, a curator from the Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum Hildesheim in Germany, from which the piece is on loan. "You can see the feet, you can see the head of this figure. Oftentimes you have objects cut in the middle or you don't have the whole figure. But in this case, you have a whole man holding flowers, and it's part of a big scene."

Credit Jennifer Merritt / WVXU
Curator Claudia Schindler examines the large limestone slab painted with a man after it was removed from its packaging.

Hefner says the exhibit will be a snapshot of life in ancient Egypt. "Of course we're talking about pharaohs, we’re talking about Egyptian gods and goddesses, mummification, and afterlife and things like that; but we're also talking about the economy and daily life and what people and status in society was like," he says.

"Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs" opens to the public on Feb. 15 and runs through Aug. 16. You can get a sneak peek now by clicking the photo at the top of the page.

Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.