The Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum contains one of the world’s most famous collections of ancient Egyptian cultural monuments with outstanding treasures of the Old Kingdom from the age of great pyramids.
Wilhelm Pelizaeus, the collection’s founder, gave his antiquities to his hometown Hildesheim in 1907, where the Pelizaeus-Museum was established in 1911. 2011 the RPM celebrates its collection’s centenary with a great program throughout the year. The program started on 26th of February with the opening of the third and last part of the restructured Egyptian permanent exhibition: The Death in the Desert. Altogether the most important epochs of the Egyptian culture, from the predynastic to Christian times, are represented by 8000 objects. You will find extraordinary antiquities as well as tools and agricultural implements from a time span of 4000 years. Evidence of ancient Egypt humour is placed next to objects showing the ingrained belief in an afterlife, so that all aspects of life in ancient Egypt become visible.
Seated statue of Hem-iunu
The seated statue of vizier Hem-iunu is a one of a kind monument of it’s time. No other private people’s image comes even close to the dimension of the famous figure in Hildesheim. The quality of the stone and the workmanship are also extraordinary. The statue was found in a chamber of his tomb, which is situated in close vicinity to the Cheops Pyramid. Even though the tomb was looted during the Roman period, the figure of Hem-iunu remained. That might be due to the fact that the statue is extremely heavy: It weighs more than a ton. The massive damage of the head leads to the assumption that the eyes were made of quartz. Tomb robbers have forced them out, so that the face had to be reconstructed in a modern way.
The Old Kingdom
The first part of the permanent exhibition concentrates on the beginning of ancient Egypt history (ca. 3250 – 2707 BC) until the culture’s first revival during Old Kingdom (2707 – 2216 BC). The subject “From Mastaba to Step Pyramid” sums up evidence of the prehistoric age as well as the early worshipping of gods, but also the first examples of arts and crafts. The visitor understands how simple pit tombs evolved into pyramids. Already on ancient world the Pyramid of Cheops was declared one of the Wonders of the World.
Life at the Nile
In the second part „Life at the Nile“ more than 600 exhibits show the diversity of everyday life in Egypt. The first room, themed “Horus and Saviour”, is dedicated to Ancient Egyptian religion. The exhibition design simulates a temple entrance in front of which statues, and temple equipment represent the variety of Egyptian Gods. This kind of installation enables the visitor to experience the objects like in their original contexts at their original sites.
Death in the Desert
The third part of the permanent exhibition focuses on some of the ancient Egypt antiquities, that can be seen as the most important source of knowledge about this culture: The belief in an afterlife. Organized into the areas “Man” and “Animal”, the exhibition picks up the two most important forms of burial, because in Egyptian belief the eternal accommodation of animals, which represent various Gods, is as important as that of men. Impressive examples show the architecture of private people’s tombes, among them the offering chapel from the Mastaba of Uhemka. Coffins, mummies, masks from different eras, amulets and shabtis represent the ideal burial equipment and illustrate the process of mummification. Special attention is given to the individual, which splits up into different aspects of identity after death and has to overcome many dangers to get into the fields of the blessed. The important reliefs from the cult chamber of the god Thot from Tuna el-Gebel in Middle Egypt (300 BC) are presented in an architectonic imitation of the underground chamber. Thus the visitor can experience the cult surrounding the god, who is depicted like an ibis or baboon, just like in Egypt. Mummies and coffins of animals illustrate the variety of the Egyptian fauna as well as the variety of Egyptian gods.