Egypt has banned Dutch archaeologists from the country amid a dispute over the portrayal of black American entertainers as rulers of Ancient Egypt.
Officials in the North African country have reportedly grown tired of comparisons between Queen Nefertiti – the wife of pharaoh Akhenaten – and R&B superstar Beyonce.
Singer Beyonce, 41, who is also known as Queen Bey, famously appeared dressed as Nefertiti at the Coachella festival in 2018, even selling merchandise dedicated to her.
Now, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) has reopened old wounds, angering Cairo with the launch of its exhibition, ‘Kemet’, or ‘Black Land’.
Kemet explores the ancient civilisation through jazz, soul and funk music, aiming to showcase the ‘significance of ancient Egypt and Nubia in the work of musicians from the African diaspora’.
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In doing so the exhibition sees Beyonce and fellow pop star Rihanna feature as Nefertiti, with rapper Nas appearing as Tutankhamun and actor Eddie Murphy as Ramesses.
The Dutch curators have since been banned from the Saqqara burial ground, accused of “falsifying history”.
It comes as a huge blow to RMO, who have been active at the site for almost half a century, The Times reports.
Egypt’s El Fagr newspaper recently described the exhibition as one that is “highly provocative and requires an explanation” over its alleged “support for Afrocentric ideas that try to rob the ancient Egyptian civilisation of its people”.
“Should they have made it clear that the exhibition is about non-Egyptian African musicians?” asked archaeology correspondent, Hossam Zidan.
“This is not consistent with history, reality and logic, as they were not and will not be Egyptians,” he continued.
Museum director Wim Weijland has hit back, however, claiming no Egyptian official has ever attended the exhibition.
“The accusation of falsifying history is inappropriate,” he explained to the NRC Handels-blad newspaper. “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 I want that qualification to be withdrawn.”