Egyptian officials have banned Dutch archaeologists from the country after an exhibition was launched which portrays black American singers, comedians and musicians as the rulers of ancient Egypt. Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in Leiden was condemned by the authorities in Cairo following the launch of their exhibition titled ‘Kemet’.
Kemet, which means ‘black land’, explores the ancient civilisation through jazz, soul and funk music to show the ‘significance of ancient Egypt and Nubia in the work of musicians from the African diaspora’.
The exhibition shows a number of black American stars as popular historical Egyptian figures. This includes Beyoncé and Rihanna as Nefertiti, American rapper Nas as Tutankhamun and Eddie Murphy as Ramesses. However Dutch archaeologists have been banned from the Saqqara burial ground, near Cairo because of the portrays which have been described as ‘falsifying history.’
Museum Director Wim Weijland told Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad: ‘The accusation of falsifying history is inappropriate. This exhibition has been made with great care. ‘As scientists, you don’t accuse each other like this. I want that qualification to be withdrawn.’
The controversy comes after Netflix received backlash for their casting of black British actress Adele James as Cleopatra. The show has been subject to ‘blackwashing‘ claims after James was cast despite historical records showing Cleopatra was Macedonian-Greek.
The ban comes as a big blow to RMO who have been active in Sakkara since 1975.