Starting on Sunday, the archaeological exhibit “Nubia: Land of the Black Pharaohs” will open to the public at the Drents Museum and shed light on an empire whose power has only recently begun to be recognised.
Translation by Traci White
The exhibit will feature 300 artefacts and sculptures of kings and gods from the rich history of Nubia, a region in the Nile river valley south of Egypt and north of the current borders of (north) Sudan. The items are on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The Nubian items, dated between 2400 BC and 350 AD, tell the story of the love-hate relationship between ancient Egypt and the Nubian kingdom. Nubian history is less widely known than Egyptian history, and according to Denise Doxey, the conservator of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, that is because their competitors, the Egyptians, were the ones telling their story.
“A lot of that comes from the fact that the Nubians did not leave written records, and the Egyptians did”, Doxey told RTV Drenthe. “So we always get descriptions of the Nubians from the Egyptian point of view. They were always in competition with Nubia, but it’s really only been in the last 20 to 50 years that excavations have really begun to discover just how far reaching Nubian power was.”
One of the highlights of the exhibit is the contents of the tomb of King Tahargo, including 60 shawbatis (funerary figurines shaped like mummies that would serve the deceased in the after life). Inscriptions on the shawbatis state that the figurines served the late king. The Nubians were also world class goldsmiths and had their own pyramids, and their distinctive shape is incorporated into the exhibit.
The Drents Museum has a strong track record of high profile archaeological exhibits, including the Terracotta Army of Xi’an (2008), the Dead Sea Scrolls (2012), the Mayans (2016) and Iran: Cradle of Civilization (June 2018). This is the tenth in a series of exhibits about international archaeological history.