The exhibition 'Daughters of the Nile' reviews the role of women in the pharaonic era through 300 pieces that cover four millennia
In ancient Egypt, elite women slept and married whoever they wanted. They could reign, be priestesses, inherit, travel, perform any trade, and undertake business without submitting to the will or whim of males. "Egypt was an island of equality in ancient times, something that did not occur in Greece or Rome," summarizes Nacho Ares, curator together with Esther Pons of the exhibition 'Daughters of the Nile. Woman and society in ancient Egypt', organized by the Eulen Group and the cartel until the end of the year at Madrid's Palacio de las Alhajas.
It goes through 4,000 years to show us the active and free role of Egyptian women of high birth -also sexual-, through 300 pieces donated by 27 museums and public and private institutions from twelve countries. Explore the influence of goddesses and queens and cover all areas of the female world, from religious life to everyday life, through outfits or cosmetics. There are sculptures, reliefs, documents, domestic utensils, coins, musical instruments, jewelery and religious and funerary objects, such as coffins, cartonnage, amulets and canopic jars.
Many of the pieces are shown for the first time. Among the most striking is the Papyrus of Turin, a kind of Egyptian 'Kamasutra' from 3,000 years ago. An antecedent of pornography that shows the audacity of the orgiastic sexual practices of the Egyptians. "It mixes sex and comedy, with giant phalluses and breasts, and shows us that our instincts have changed little in 30 centuries," says Ares ironically. “The concept of sexuality was free and open. Homosexuality was not labeled, which was considered normal behavior, ”says the journalist and Egyptologist.
Differences by zones and status
But not all Egyptian women enjoyed full sexual and social freedom. "Over 4,000 years the social, economic and religious structure evolved in a vast territory, so there would be differences depending on the area and status," notes Ares. «There was an open mentality in the upper strata. Marriage between brothers was practiced for dynastic and state reasons and was not considered incest, but it did not occur in the lower strata of the society », he points out.
“What is undeniable is that men and women were equal before the law. The woman was the companion of the man, her complement. A concept far removed from that existing in Greek society, where women were considered minors," says the commissioner.
Remember that Egypt "was a theocracy and therefore the right to the throne was divine." "The woman transmitted that right and granted legitimacy," he explains, recalling non-consort queens, such as Hatshepsut (1479-1425 BC) or Cleopatra VII (51-30 BC), the last pharaoh after Nitocris, Neferusobek, Hatshepsut , Semenejkara and Tauser, "The Great Royal Wife exerted great influence on the pharaoh and on politics," Ares points out, recalling the cases of Tiyi (1390-1340 BC), her daughter-in-law, Nefertiti (1353-1332 BC) and Nefertari (1279-1255 BC).
The exhibition includes life-size reproductions of the central chambers of Sennejdem's tomb and an immersive audiovisual that recreates the burial chamber of Queen Nefertari. Designer Lorenzo Caprile brings two dresses inspired by ancient Egypt.
In a year full of ephemeris for Egyptology -100 years since the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter, 200 years since the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone by JF Champollion and 50 years since the inauguration of the Temple of Debod, in Madrid-, the Grupo Eulen has wanted to celebrate its 60th anniversary by supporting this exhibition that will be on display until December 31 in Madrid's Plaza de San Martín, Madrid.