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The Guardian of Egyptian ArtThe Crypt of the Sphinx
An enigmatic half-human, half-animal creature with the body of a lion and the face of a king stands guard at the entrance to the Louvre’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities. Deep down in the crypt, the Great Sphinx of Tanis welcomes visitors to a vast display of over 6,000 works spanning almost 5,000 years of Egyptian history.
Champollion at the Louvre
The first Egyptian museum, comprising four rooms, opened at the Louvre in 1827. Jean-François Champollion, the French scholar who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822, founded and directed this museum with a view to spreading knowledge of this mysterious civilisation that had long fascinated Europeans. The science of Egyptology was born and the museum’s collection expanded rapidly, thanks in particular to an agreement with the Egyptian government to divide excavation finds. The collection owned by the Musée Charles X has long since extended beyond its borders; the Department of Egyptian Antiquities occupies two levels in today’s Louvre.
Life in ancient Egypt
The first rooms introduce the main characteristics of ancient Egyptian civilisation, beginning with the Nile and its annual flood, which ensured plentiful crops. Monumental Egyptian architecture is represented by the ‘mastaba’ tomb of Akhethotep. The visit continues with a room devoted to hieroglyphs, then moves on to daily life in ancient Egypt, illustrated by artefacts, furniture, clothing and jewellery. The temple room and the collection of sarcophagi recall the importance the ancient Egyptians attached to religion and funerary practices.
5,000 years of history
The displays on Level 1 take a historical and artistic approach with an overview of almost 5,000 years of Egyptian art. Highlights include the famous Seated Scribe with his bright-eyed gaze, and the statues of kings and queens including Sesostris III, Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Amenophis III, Nefertiti, Akhenaton and Ramesses II.
Ancient Egyptian masterpieces
In today’s Louvre, the Department of Egyptian Antiquities occupies two floors. On the lower level, you will find a themed display on daily lives of Ancient Egyptians and on the upper level, you will find a chronological display on Ancient Egypt, from prehistory to the Ptolemaic Period.
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Grand sphinx de Tanis
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Did you know?
Inside a mastaba tomb
A celebrity scribe
The Seated Scribe
The Seated Scribe
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