The provincial museum of Kom Oushim, historically Karanis, in Fayoum, has been reopened to the public after a 10-year long renovation. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani opened the museum on 3 November; attending the opening was Fayoum Governor Gamal Samy and a number of officials and ambassadors to Egypt.
Dr Anani said that it was his Ministry’s plan to reopen closed museums, hoping to promote an awareness of Egypt’s history among locals and to encourage tourism.
The museum houses a collection of 320 pieces of antiquity that span the history of Fayoum since ancient times. According to Elham Salah, head of the museums sector at the Antiquities Ministry, some of these objects were among the museum’s original collection, whereas others were stored at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, Cairo, and are on display for the first time.
The EGP650,000 restoration included the installation of new security and lighting systems, replacing the old display cases with new ones, building an external iron fence 3 metres higher than the original and erecting new control towers, and repainting the façade.
Kom Oushim, known also as Kom Aushim or Kom Oshim, is located to the north of Qaroun Lake, 70km south west Cairo and 33km north of Fayoum Oasis. It was built by the Greek Ptolemies in the 3rd century BC, during which time it was an agriculture town and was the largest Greco-Roman town in Fayoum.
Karanis is the ancient name for Kom Oshim. It went through many changes and thrived for about seven centuries. In 1925, archeologists decided the site needed to be excavated. This was first done under supervision of the University of Michigan. Much later Cairo University took over the excavation work which was more recently assigned to the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo.
The museum is very close to Fayoum city. It contains a huge collection of glassware, pottery, jewellery and ornaments. It also includes two of the famous Fayoum portraits which were Greco-Roman era portraits of deceased persons, painted on wood or cartonnage, and placed on the covers of their sarcophagi. Since ancient Egyptians believed in life after death, the faces in the portraits were always serious, with large eyes, arrayed in the finest clothes and jewellery. The best collection of Fayoum portraits came from Karanis, Philadelphia, and Hawara.
6 November 2016