de Young Museum visitors help aid restoration of Egyptian tomb of Ramses the Great

ByDan Ashley and Tim Didion via KGO logo
Wednesday, November 23, 2022 10:27PM
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Visitors to San Francisco's de Young museum are helping archaeologists working at the tomb of Ramses the Great in Egypt.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Walking into the Ramses the Great exhibit at San Francisco's de Young museum is a journey of discovery, in more ways than one. Perhaps without realizing it, visitors are helping to unlock secrets buried for thousands of years.

Discoveries being made right now, by archaeologists working in Ramses' tomb, are supported by ticket sales from the exhibition.

"We took more than 60,000 square feet of stone rubble and sand. The tomb was cleared for the first time. And I found out it is the largest tomb in the Valley of the Kings," said Dr. Zahi Hawass, lead archaeologist.

Hawass is directing excavations at the 700-foot-long tomb, which was badly damaged by a flood. His team is working deep inside, restoring scenes inscribed on the walls, which are now coming back to life.

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"And we began to see, for the first time, scenes of Ramses the second giving offering. We began to see books like The Book of the gates, showing the sun god in front of him," Hawass said.

He says the team may be close to discovering a tunnel, running between Ramses' tomb and the tomb of his son. If the ongoing work is critical, so is the support from visitors to the de Young.

"You know, we're art history, archaeology -- these are ongoing exercises, but they're expensive. So it feels really good that we're able to actually kind of give back to Egypt. They're in this very exciting moment," said Thomas Campbell, director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which oversees the de Young.

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An entire team of archaeologists is now working at the Egyptian site. And organizers say their progress is stunning, revealing new secrets that could soon be shared with the public.

"I have a team of almost 30 People restoring, excavating, connecting the scenes for the first time. I really believe within two years, this tomb can be visited by the people," Hawass said.

Adding to the understanding of this magnificent period in history. A gift to the world, made possible in part by visitors to San Francisco's DeYoung museum.

And that gift is definitely being shared here in the Bay Area. The museum works with local schools to help roughly ten thousand students experience the exhibit free of charge.

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