As part of its "You Will See What You Can't See" project where a new, special artifact is introduced to visitors every month, the Izmir Archaeology Museum brings the breezes of the Nile to the Aegean Izmir province this month. The September guests of the museum are 2,700-year-old Ushabti statuettes used in funeral rituals in Egypt.
The three ceramic figurines were found during excavations in the archaeological sites around Izmir’s Bayraklı, Foça and Erythrai. They were brought to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum at the beginning of the 1900s. Transferred from Istanbul Archaeology Museum to Izmir after the establishment of the city’s archaeology museum in the 1930s, the Ushabtis were preserved for about 80 years in the warehouses of the Izmir museum.
Ushabtis – small statuettes made of wood, stone or faience, a type of ceramic material – are often found in large numbers in ancient Egyptian tombs. It is believed that these statuettes were buried in tombs in Egypt with the aim of serving their owners as slaves in the afterlife.
The three Ushabtis at the Izmir Archaeology Museum indicate the longstanding commercial and cultural relations between Egypt and Anatolia. The figurines, with hieroglyphic inscriptions saying "ready for calls of duty of gods," will remain open to visitors in the treasury hall of the museum until the end of the month.
"We know that Anatolia and Egypt had very important deep-rooted relations in the fields of politics, culture, art and trade in every period of history,” Hünkar Keser, the director of Izmir Archaeological Museum, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
He said that there are many sanctuaries dedicated to Egyptian gods and goddesses in various spots of Anatolia. "We know that a temple was built in Ephesus in the name of Serapis, one of the fertility gods of Egypt. We also unearth artifacts of Egyptian culture in the worship areas in various places in Anatolia."
“The Egyptians included the Ushabtis in their preparations for the afterworld because they thought that they should have servants after death. They made statuettes out of tile and faience and had them buried next to them,” he added.
The previous items exhibited as part of the Izmir Archaeology Museum's project were awe-inspiring marble statuettes carved by sculptors in Anatolia 7,000 years ago, called the “Stargazers,” and a bronze tool used for cleansing the body by scraping off dirt, perspiration and oil some 2,300 years ago, called a “strigil.”
The "You Will See What You Can't See" exhibition is due to run through January 2022.