Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂 Today, most families in the US will probably have Turkey for dinner together with family and friends. The start of the festive season, it also marks the end of yet another busy year full of developments and happenings. What better day to mark the end of my posts on Egypt. Today, I end my journey to Egypt with the final resting place for most of Egypt’s great treasures: The Egyptian Museum.
After thousands of years of history, the final resting place for most of the Egyptian treasures is not located in the Valley of the Kings, nor inside Great Pyramids. Instead, their final resting place is inside the Egyptian Museum or somewhere in a box in its basement. First opened in 1863 my guidebook tells me that the museum had to move twice before settling at its current building in which it has been housed since 1902. Even then, it is still not large enough to accomodate all the treasures.
Upon entering the Egyptian Museum you immediately understand the need for a larger museum. Having been to many museums around the world, you see beautiful and significant treasures in large spaces of their own. They become the centrepiece occupying a single wall or perhaps the focus of a large room.
Spotlights shine on the Mona Lisa at the Louvre which is encased in glass and visitors are stopped by a wooden railing that prevents one from getting too close. The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire sits in a glass case on a beautiful velvet cushion at Vienna’s Schatzkammer (Treasury Museum). The exquisite Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian is in a glass case of it’s own surrounded by security cameras. At the Egyptian Museum, however, there are so many priceless objects and too little space that everything looks like it has just been placed there for storage.
There were even wine bottles. Of course they weren’t made of glass like today’s ones, but they were made of pottery shaped in such a cone-line way so that the wine would not have sediments. On the bottle, were engraved the names of the vineyards, the year in which the grapes were harvested and the owner. Amazing. Now there are no longer any vineyards in Egypt, the climate and religion has changed.
I go into the special section for the Royal Mummies and peer at the remains of Egypt’s great pharaohs. Their mummification process is still a mystery. I see hair, nails and skin of those who lived thousands of years ago. They bare their teeth out at me. I see one whose face looks like she was in pain. I am told perhaps this is Hatsheptsut. This takes me back to my younger days in Belgium where the museum there too had a mummy. I remember looking at the toenails sticking out from under the bandages and being awed by it. Now decades later, I am still in awe.
If I have the opportunity I would of course go back to Egypt. I would go back to once again wander amidst the treasures at the Egyptian Museum and explore the streets of off smaller villages along the nile. I would spend a night out in the Sinai desert with the camels and visit the Bedoin people. Egypt was a place that once everyone wanted to go in its days of glory. The Greeks came to Alexandria and the Romans too had their say. Egypt was the centre and symbol of civilization thousands of years before our time. Salam Malakum.