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Egypt Bans Dutch Archaeology Team Due to ‘Afrocentric’ Exhibition

Egypt bans the Dutch archaeology team
Egypt bans an archaeology team from a Dutch museum from excavating in Saqqara necropolis due to the museum’s ‘Afrocentric’ exhibition. Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

A group of archaeologists from a Dutch museum has been banned from conducting excavations in Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis due to a controversial exhibition organized by the museum.

Following the launch of the exhibition titled “Kemet: Egypt in Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul & Funk,” the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in Leiden received an email from the head of foreign missions at the Egyptian Antiquities Service.

The email expressed disapproval of the museum’s “Afrocentric” approach, accusing it of distorting historical facts, as reported by the Dutch newspaper NRC on Monday.

Wim Weijland, the museum’s managing director, confirmed via email to CNN that the Egyptian authorities have refused to grant the museum a permit for the upcoming excavation season at Saqqara.

Additionally, he verified that the journalist who authored the NRC article had seen the email from the Egyptian authorities.

Carrying out annual excavations for the past 40 years

For over 40 years, the museum in question has been conducting annual excavations at Saqqara. Their most recent excavation took place earlier this year, spanning from February 19 to March 23.

Wim Weijland shared with CNN that the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden has been actively involved in excavations at Saqqara since 1975.

However, for the upcoming excavation season, the museum has been denied the necessary permit to continue its work at the site.

Weijland explained that the reason behind the permit’s denial is attributed to the perceived act of “falsifying history” within the current exhibition organized by the museum.

Despite this setback, the museum is striving to initiate a constructive dialogue with the Egyptian authorities regarding the issue, Weijland further added.

Main purpose of ‘Kemet’ exhibition

Weijland further elaborated on the purpose of the “Kemet” exhibition, stating that its objective is to present and comprehend how ancient Egypt is depicted and the messages conveyed through music by black artists.

Additionally, the exhibition aims to showcase the insights gained from scientific and Egyptological research on ancient Egypt and Nubia, he further explained.

Nubia is an ancient region situated in northeastern Africa. It spans from the Nile River valley in Egypt to the city of Khartoum in present-day Sudan. In the past, this area served as the homeland of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush, whose kings were also known as the “Black Pharaohs.”

The exhibition, as stated on its website, commenced in April and will continue until September 3. It offers a captivating exploration of the history of music, delving into the significant impact of ancient Egypt and Nubia on the artistic creations of numerous musicians of African origin.

This includes renowned jazz figures like Miles Davis and Sun Ra, as well as artists such as Beyoncé and Rihanna, according to the official website.

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