Monday, December 22, 2008

Travel Blogging III

Dateline: Cairo. Today we had a lecture on the old and new kingdoms and what to expect of each. I didn't learn much except pyramids are associated exclusively with the old kingdom. Royal burials in the new kingdom were all done in the Valley of the Kings. I think I slept through the rest of the lecture, the lady wasn't terribly dynamic.

This afternoon we did the Egyptian Museum, of story and legend. Wow, they really have some serious antiquities to display. Many of them are interpreted in English as well as Arabic, too. I particularly liked the Akenaton/Nefertiti room, the statues of old AK were amazing - not so much idealized as was otherwise typical for pharoahs. He had Asian eyes, African lips, a long thin face, and big hips and thighs, an odd looking dude, but he had presence, whatever that is.

My other favorite thing was the King Tutankaman, aka King Tut, collection. I took the opportunity to get reacquainted with the statue of Selket, a goddess with a scorpion on her head. I remember her from when the King Tut exhibit came to the U.S. in 1976 or 1977. We saw the exhibit at the Smithsonian on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, the only time the lines weren't prohibitive. The Selket statue was undoubtedly modeled on a living beautiful woman 3500 years ago. The model is unremembered dust, but her image still shines with intelligence and grace. That, dear reader, was an exceptionally talented sculptor whose identity, like that of the model, is lost.

It is fashionable to be down on this museum, but I think it is a decent space with some very amazing things on display. The rooms are huge, with very high ceilings, and there is no shortage of beautiful, ancient stuff to look at. You could spend a month there, but the time we spent was good, after awhile the feet gave out and eventually we found ourselves sitting on the steps resting. We understand they are building a new museum at Giza to house half or more of the collection near the pyramids.

It is windy today, and the wind blows dust and stuff around. It is also just short of cold - one of those days when you keep putting on and taking off your wrap. Tomorrow we visit Giza to see the pyramids and the sphinx. The other DrC says she wants to ride a camel there. Some day in the right spot I may ride an elephant but a camel? No thanks. She can ride and I'll take pix thereof.