Day 1 at Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
I finally got to the museum today and spent all day there, but only covered half of the bottom floor. Honestly there is so much to see and read in there. The stonework of most of the pieces was absolutely astonishing: towering statues, miniature statues, geometrically perfect sarcophagi with precisely fitted lids, alters, sacrificial and libation tables, canopic jars, and bowls all chiseled out of single incredibly massive blocks of pegmatitic pink granites, black granites, quartzites, sandstones, nearly translucent to opaque limestones, basalts, schists, and gneisses. Many of the pieces were intricately sculpted pieces of bare polished rock with coarse crystals or well defined foliation aligned symmetrically with a bust, while others were plastered over and painted, and most were covered in meticulous hieroglyphics. Photos are not allowed, but I managed to snap a few when no one was looking:
I will be going back tomorrow and probably the next day or two after as well to see the rest of the artifacts; by showing my student card, I got in for only EG£ 25 (~$4). I was completely awestruck by what I saw today. I have never before seen any works that come even close to the grand perfection, magnitude, and timelessness that the ancient Egyptians achieved in their stonework. I didn’t have the money or desire for a guide, as most of them were merely repeating what the captions said, so I just took my sweet time moving through the early dynasties through the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and into part of the New Kingdom. Most people I think glazed over at all the hieroglyphs and sped through the galleries, but I tried to closely examine each mural and often could interpret some details of its story. There seemed to be a very common theme of a god or a king or a god-king, standing or sitting by a goddess, queen, mother, or sister, accepting a pile of offerings, such as libations, flowers, sacrificial meat, bread, etc., from gods, goddesses, children, vassals, and/or servants. I have alot of questions about ancient Egyptian culture so maybe I’ll try to find a legitimate guide. I also bought the museum guide book, so I’m gonna read that tonight and come a little more prepared, hopefully, for tomorrow.
I did some reading, and it makes sense that the stelas depict more or less the same scene because they weren’t meant to be seen by anyone living but solely to be an incarnation of the afterlife of the deceased and to ensure the continued offering rituals that sustained him/her after death: a kind of immortality incantation.
Also on my way back, I had supper at this very small kitchen owned by the nicest older couple who said they were also US citizens and recently came here to keep the business in the family. They said that if I need anything to come see them and they’ll take care of me and set me up with trustworthy transportation, guides, etc. Also they have family in Luxor that owns a hotel right next to the temples there, so I think I’ll catch the train up there in the next week or so. I’m gonna dump some clothes I brought for field school so I can travel a little easier. I’m starting to feel much more comfortable with the culture now so plan on getting around more in the next few weeks.
Not feeling too hot this morning. Last night my sleep was garbage, and my stomach is finally rebelling against my diet here. So maybe I’ll try and hunt down a good-ol-fashioned burger and filtered coffee to settle my stomach down before hitting the museum. Or maybe I’ll just chill today and do some programming? Since grooveshark.com went down along with hundreds of my playlists, I’ve been a little hurting for music, but found an online streaming radio site that has some decent metal channels. Can’t program without my metal 🙂
Day 2 at Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
After pissing through my ass all day yesterday… Went to the museum again today to finish it off; had to rush though the Greco-Roman period, unfortunately, due to being absorbed by Tutankhamen’s wing – SO MUCH GOLD!!!! I’ve never seen so much gold in my life: layers upon layers upon layers of gold coverings, amulets, jewelry, knives all inlaid with precious stones upon Tutankhamen’s mummy, covered in an 11kg solid gold head and shoulders mask, golden gloves, crook, and flail, inside a solid gold casket, inside three more golden-gilded sarcophagi, inside two gold plated outer houses; huge gold plated chests, ringed by golden serpents, containing translucent alabaster canopic box, holding four alabaster jars, containing four solid gold miniature sarcophagi, holding Tutankhamen’s liver, stomach, intestines, and lungs – all carefully covered in protecting spells, gods, and goddesses, depicted in hieroglyphic carvings, reliefs, jades, turquoises, jaspers, silvers, electrums, ad nauseam… They were pretty serious about the afterlife, apparently; no playing around.
King Tut’s Hoard
I Couldn’t get any shots of the bling because it was all closely watched by cameras and guards, but I did get a few more of other less watched items before being told not to take pictures. Someone else, who apparently had more money to bribe the guards than myself, uploaded this video of King Tut’s hoard on display:
One of my favorite pieces at the museum was a long sarcophagus lid with a life-sized relief of a goddess lying stretched out, fingertip to toe, atop the inside in a gesture of protection, looking inwards at the entombed mummy. I was rushing through the last bit of the museum I hadn’t covered when I came across it, but was promptly asked to vacate for closing. All in all, I think I fairly thoroughly covered what there was to see there. I may go back again before I leave just to see a few of the stone statues and sarcophagi that particularly stood out to me. The precious metal work was amazing, but I spent the most time admiring the stonework, guess I’m not a geologist for nothin!