How much do people know about Egypt after the reign of the Pharaohs ended? How did it stop worshipping so many Gods to just the one God? These questions and many more are answered in the British Museum’s latest Egypt exhibition.
When people tend to think about Egypt, they tend to think about the age of the pharaohs and the numerous Gods that they used to worship. But after the age of the pharaohs – what happened to Egyptians idea of faith and how did they cut the number of Gods they believed in to one? The British Museum explores how modern Egypt and their faith came about by separating the exhibition into three different sections as seen through the eyes of Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Starting when Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire, following the death of Cleopatra and Mark Antony right up until AD 1171 when the rule of the Islamic Fatimid dynasty came to an end, the exhibition features a wide variety of objects that showcase how each individual religion actually helped to create an Egypt that is recognisable today.
Of course, the exhibition does argue that just like many other ares across the world having several different religious groups living in close proximity to each other has caused problems and a power struggle, but it also shows how in fact it can be done with very little problems because of the similarities involved.
Throughout, the visitor can find themselves looking for similarities and contrasts between each religion that is covered and it makes for very thoughtful viewing. There is plenty of information available and the research is so detailed that it can be overwhelming – but stick with it as it is a very refreshing and informative approach to the subject of Egypt.
The layout of the exhibition has been carefully thought out and really flows well as you walk around. But it also can feel slightly crammed in places that with more space the ideas that the exhibition expresses can breathe more easily. It shows a nation that adapted and changed with the times and how it has dealt with a conflict of ideas through violence, yet through many years a peaceful existence was possible between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
If you go with an open mind then this exhibition will truly open your eyes to an Egypt that you probably didn’t even realise existed and for that the British Museum should be applauded for their refreshing approach. But if you are expecting something that perhaps is more focused on the many Gods that Egyptians have worshipped – then you will be in for a surprise.
It is a surprisingly poignant and thoughtful exhibition that covers all angles and ideas to the full and is certainly one of the most well rounded exhibitions to go and see in London at the moment.
Egypt : Faith After the Pharaohs is on at the British Museum now until the 7th February 2016.