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LEIDEN.- The mystical world of the ancient Egyptian gods comes to life in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden, the Netherlands. The large exhibition ‘Gods of Egypt’ is entirely devoted to the ancient Egyptian pantheon and brings together more than 500 imposing sculptures of gods and goddesses, magical papyri, gold jewels and richly painted mummy cases, from museums in the Netherlands and abroad, including the British Museum, the Louvre, the Museo Egizio of Turin, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna. ‘Gods of Egypt’ runs until 31 March. 


Horus and Horemheb, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty (1319-1305 BC), limestone, height 1.52 m, © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Mystical world 
The ancient Egyptians believed that everything - the creation of the cosmos, transient life on earth and eternal life after death – lay in the hands of gods and goddesses. These deities determined their entire view of the world and their everyday life. The pharaoh was considered one of the gods and represented the Egyptian gods on earth. 

‘Gods of Egypt’ is an introduction to the ancient Egyptians’ fascinating pantheon and their mystical world, steeped in symbolism. A life-size dual figure sculpture of Pharaoh Horemheb and the god Horus - one of the highlights of the exhibition - welcome visitors at the entrance. Stories about Egypt’s gods and the creation are followed by a look at their home in the heavens and in temples on earth, where they were worshipped with countless rituals. The exhibition continues with the role of the gods in the eternal cycle of life and death, and descends to the underworld, the realm of Osiris, where every Egyptian hoped to reside after death. ‘Gods of Egypt’ concludes with the Greek and Romans who introduced Egypt’s deities into their own world, and the influence of the Egyptian pantheon on art and popular culture in Europe.  


Goddess Sachmet, Karnak, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty (1390-1353 BC), granodiorite, height 2 m© Museo Egizio, Turin.

For ‘Gods of Egypt’ the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden has assembled a wealth of world-class pieces from international museums and private collections. Objects from the British Museum (London), the Musée du Louvre (Paris), the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), the Roemer- und Pelizaeusmuseum (Hildesheim), the Allard Pierson Museum (Amsterdam), the August Kestner Museum (Hannover) and the Museo Egizio in Turin, home of one of the two greatest Egyptian collections in the world, are being displayed in over 800 m2 of exhibition space. Students from the ArtEZ University of the Arts in Zwolle have been inspired by Egypt’s deities and associated mythology to produce a series of short film animations, which also are on view at the exhibition. 

‘Gods of Egypt’ is the museum’s fifth consecutive major winter exhibition, following on from ‘Petra’, ‘Carthage’, ‘Queens of the Nile’ and ‘Nineveh’. It is also the farewell exhibition of curator Professor Maarten Raven, who is retiring after 40 years of service at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden.


Kenna's death book (fragment), New Kingdom, 18th-19th Dynasty (1550 - 1196 BC), Middle Egypt, New Kingdom, 18th-19th Dynasty (1550 - 1196 BC), papyrus, 17.70 m.


Chest ornament with goddesses Isis and Nephthys, New Kingdom, 18th-19th Dynasty (about 1500-1200 BC), wood, glass, stone and gold© Rijksmuseum van Oudheden.


Cow's head from Hathor, Deir el-Medina, New Empire, 19th - 20th Dynasty (1292-1077 BC), limestone, height 38.3 cm, © Musée du Louvre, Paris.


Ramses IV offers wine, New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty (1156-1150 BC), gray suit, height 1.28 m© British Museum, London.


Statue from royal tomb, Thebes, New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty (1129-1111 BC), wood, height 51.5 cm© British Museum, London. 


Horus four sons: Amset, Hapy, Doeametef and Kebehsenoef, Thebes, Late Period (722-332 BC), wood, height 29 cm© Museo Egizio, Turin.


Ramsfinx with Pharaoh Taharqa, Kawa, Late Period, 25th Dynasty (690-664 BC), gneiss, height 1.06 m© British Museum, London.


Mummy chest of Peftjaoeneith, Late Period, 26th Dynasty (ca. 664 - 525 BC), wood, height 2.40 m.


Anubis as jackal, Thebes, Late Period, 26th Dynasty (664-525 BC), wood, length 50.5 cm© Rijksmuseum van Oudheden.


Sunbath, Late Period (ca. 600-400 BC), bronze, height 33.5 cm, © Rijksmuseum van Oudheden.


Thot as a mantle baboon, Greek Period (332-30 BC), faience; snout and sickle silver, disc gold, © Musée du Louvre, Paris.


Grave stele with boat and sun god, Thebes, Greek Period (300-200 BC), wood, height: 84.7 cm, © Musée du Louvre, Paris.


Goddess Isis, Middle Egypt, Greek Period (about 300-200 BC), wood, height 40.5 cm© Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim.