Showing posts with label Egyptian Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egyptian Museum. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Right Place at the Right Time–Egyptian Museum Cairo

Timing is everything when you travel. And those who travel know it.

Arriving on the one day each week a recommended restaurant is closed or on the day that an employees’ strike or a national holiday has closed a local attraction can be a major disappointment when you’ve got your sights set on that particular experience.

Egyptian Museum, Cairo
On the other hand, there is no joy like realizing that your timing was perfect, as was the case with our visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  We lucked out and visited during a rare period (Dec. 1, 2015  – Jan. 7, 2016) when cameras were allowed to be used inside. (No one is sure why the Antiquities Department loosened the rules; some say it was part of a nation-wide effort to increase tourism and others, more skeptical, say it might be a precurser to allowing cameras but charging a fee to use them.)

Whatever the case, this shutterbug was one happy gal! Without further adeiu let us take you through the Museum, housed in the same stately pink building since its opening in 1902 at the north side of Cairo’s Tahrir Square:

Interior looking towards Entry Door - Egyptian Museum - Cairo

The Museum itself is somewhat a relic. Some items are still displayed in the vitrines they were placed in when the Museum opened. Some have type-written (as in typewriter) information cards.

P1030501Some of the display halls were so dimly-lit they felt spooky; so dark you couldn’t see the displays or read information. It would have made a great setting for an Agatha Christie novel.

There are certainly splashier and more-modern Museum’s in the world, but the somewhat musty charm of this place only added to the feel of ‘antiquities’ and it seemed a perfect home for the some 100,000 objects housed in its 15,000 square meters of space.

Around 3100 BCE the kingdoms of Upper Egypt in the south and Lower Egypt in the North merged into a single state

The Old Kingdom 2649 –2134 BCE
The Middle Kingdom 2040 – 1640 BCE
The New Kingdom 1550 – 1070 BCE

The grandeur, the size was stunning - Egyptian Museum, Cairo
At every turn there was some jaw-dropping display with an incomprehensibly old date.  We’d bet that even the most die-hard ‘not-interested-in-Museums’ of you out there would be blown away by a visit here. From the largest, like the statuary above, to the smallest, like this intricate necklace, there was something incredible to leave the viewer shaking his/her head. How did they create with such precision and detail so many thousands of years ago?

This necklace's detail was stunning - Egyptian Museum - Cairo
One of the most remarkable things about our visit was how empty the Museum was - a sad commentary on the impact of terrorism and political upheavals in recent years. Again, as I wrote about the Pyramids, there were no crowds during our visit. We often had entire display rooms to ourselves.

Sphinxes - Egyptian Museum - Cairo
These grey-granite sphinxes were created for Pharaoh Amenemhat III (1855 – 1808 BC) and one couldn’t help but be struck by the intricate carving and design done so long before computers - for that matter, before paper and pencils.

Sanab - Egyptian Museum - Cairo
One of my favorite displays was of Senab, and Egyptian dwarf, chief of all the Palace dwarfs, who was charged with the care of the Palace wardrobe.  With his wife, Senetites, at his side, his two children stand where his legs should be had he been of normal height.

Another who doesn’t get a lot of acclaim – at least not like King Tut – was the one identified as:

"House of the Toilet" Egyptian Museum - Cairo
While researching this after our visit, I found little information about that particular position but did learn that the English had a “Groom of the Stool” who was considered the ‘most intimate of an English monarch’s courtiers’.

Moving on. . .to the New Kingdom. . .

Royal Bed - Egyptian Museum Cairo
How’s this for a bed frame?  Still not quite sure how they got in and out of it.

Chariot - the real deal Egyptian Museum - Cairo
Thoughts of Charlton Heston and Ben Hur came to mind when we got to the chariot displays – only these weren’t movie props, these were the real thing!

PicMonkey Collage
Oh the gold jewelry. . .Egyptian Museum - Cairo 
The jewelry room was astounding – the workmanship and details simply amazing. The photos above from the left, show a head crown, a ring and a collection of gold bracelets.

Death Mask - King Tut Egyptian Museum Cairo
And then we arrived at perhaps the most famous of the displays: Tutankhamun (King Tut) Galleries, with some 1,700 items filling much of the first floor. King Tut was the young New Kingdom Pharaoh who ruled from 1336BC to 1327BC.  The items on display were buried in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

PicMonkey Collage
Casket and body armor King Tut - Egyptian Museum - Cairo 
While mercifully King Tut’s remains are still in the tomb in the Valley of the Kings, pretty much everything else is on display from his death mask, to the caskets to the body armor in which he was buried.

Several of you have asked if we visited the new state-of-the art museum for which construction began in 2002. There is no ‘new’ museum yet. It was begun during the time the former-now-disposed President Hosini Mubarak led the country. The Grand Egyptian Museum was to be on the Giza Plateau, about two kilometers from the Pyramids and Sphinx. Since the 2011 Arab Spring revolution ousted Mubarak the fate of that project so closely tied to the former president has been uncertain. 

New paint job just completed in this hallway - Egyptian Museum - Cairo

As Lonely Planet guidebook advises, “In the meantime, enjoy the fresh paint job here in the Downtown Egyptian Museum – that’s likely the only real improvement in antiquities exhibits that tourists will see for awhile.”

Thanks again for taking a walk through history with us today.  We know your time is valuable and appreciate that you spend a part of it with us.  Happy and safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking with:
Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration


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