Egypt Tour

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Cairo Revisiting The Museum

A wake up call at 6:30 a.m. on March 28th, breakfast, bus ride to the airport, flight from Luxor to Cairo - all were accomplished before noon. As we flew out of the Luxor Valley, the green patchwork fields appear to be losing some ground to the forever-encroaching sand. There are wide aqueducts (4 roads wide) crossed by narrow ones and roads. Midway to Cairo, I looked down on dark umber (rock?) hills with paisley drifts of white sand swirled among their creases.

Kaled met us at the airport gate with a luggage cart and collected us with three others and all our baggage. He took off like a speed demon and just about wore us out dashing through the terminal and out to our transport. Within an hour we were back at our hotel and had our feet propped up. We sat for awhile, then took off for the museum.

The museum was very quiet with few tour groups. We wandered through the upper gallery (since we had covered the lower floor on our first visit). We browsed the colorful and ornately decorated sarcophagi from the Valley of the Queens and viewed pre-dynastic through Greco-Roman pottery and jewelry. At one point, when we had decided to sit and rest for a few minutes, a young museum guard came over to chat with us then proudly offered to show us a "baby" mummy. We followed him down a corridor and turned in to a room holding several child and women mummies and their sarcophagi. We also saw samples of mummified animals used as offerings – a cat, falcon, ibis, crocodile, and even a fish!

Nearby was a room filled with statues of all the various gods and goddesses. They ranged from miniscule (less that an inch) to a couple of feet tall in size and were grouped by god regardless of where they had been found. The ones of Osiris got quite elaborate – a most impressive version was done in black granite with gold inlays and alabaster/onyx eyes. There were some intricately detailed Horus and Sekmet, some whimsical Bes and Min. Some of the statues were plain and crude in their design while others were ornate. We found an unusual representation of Sobek from Arubis – he had the usual crocodile shaped body and a finely shaped head of Horus. The Bastet collection was well done with materials ranging from ceramic to bronze to stone.

We re-entered the Tut area and took the time to study his funerary gear – tables, chairs and clothing boxes with elaborate inlays of gold, ivory and precious gems – his exquisitely adorned white alabaster and solid gold canopic jars – a slightly dingy but still intact ostrich feather fan with jeweled handle. As we headed towards the "Tut Room", we noticed a room with "Ancient Egyptian Jewelry" was open. It was a new exhibit in the process of being photographed for addition to the catalog and was not completely labeled. It had examples of jewelry from Djeser (1st dynasty) through the New Kingdom – gold and gemstone neckpieces, rings, crowns, masks and amulets. We reviewed the "Tut Room" and are still amazed at the beauty and wealth of the artifacts collected there.

Another new exhibit was the "Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Tanis". Aside from the incredible jewelry collection, this room held two large silver, engraved and bejeweled sarcophagi. Most amazing was that one of them had the face of Horus. It was labeled Chenaque and according to the guard was from 2100-2200 BC. It was truly impressive. We found the papyrus library with its collection of papyri from the earliest to most recent times. The first known cartoon of cats making offerings of mice (and vice versa) was among the treasures there.

As we were heading back towards the stairs, we discovered a treasure trove of every imaginable size and shape of scarab. Each of the four displays sat upon three 24" drawers set nine rows high – we can not imagine what else is still to be seen. Think of what remains in storage and archives in this museum! There is a plan to build a new museum to house it all – maybe it will be completed by the time we visit again.

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