If you find yourself near Leiden, home to Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands, make sure to visit the Queens of the Nile exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities, which promises to finally afford the wives of the pharoahs the attention they deserve. The exhibit of royal portraits, godly statues, lavish jewellery and accessories is curated by Leiden University students and PhD candidates, in addition to egyptologist Olaf Kaper.
“Too little attention has been paid to the wives of the pharoahs, both in science and in the museum world. I wanted to tell their history and show different aspects of life at court,” says Kaper.
According to Leiden University, the exhibition covers a period of 500 years and pays tribute to five queens of the era known as the “new empire”. Those queens were famed for their political prowess and divinity.
Among the showcase are two particularly valuable pieces, “the decorated granite cover of the sarcophagus of Queen Nefertari and a five-metre papyrus,” explains Kaper. “This enormous document is a legal text that describes the conspiracy against and the murder of Pharoah Ramses III by a group of ladies from the harem and a number of officials. It proves that women at that time were by no means happy to accept a subordinate role.”
This is the first major exhibit of its kind on the Egyptian queens in the Netherlands. It continues until 17 April 2017.