I was secretly thrilled as I peered upon the embellished commemoration mask of Tutankhamen. It occurred to me that the thrill of the American archaeologist Howard Carter must have been much more when he discovered the mask in the Valley of the Kings back in 1922. Mainly because this mask was found in the place of the czar, intact, in the burial chamber of Pharaoh himself, together with an immeasurable treasure, and many other useful objects and adornment.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo keeps 1700 pieces from the tomb of Tutankhamen. The mask of Tutankhamen, an impressive piece of headwear made of 11 kilos of gold and decorated with other precious metals, is that which is given a large share of prominence across the Egyptian Museum. The face on the mask has an almost blank stare, almost distant and empty. The man pictured, supposedly, is that of Pharaoh himself. Incidentally, all the Pharaohs followed this trend: their masks crafted and portrayed as accurately their faces, so that in the time of the hereafter, their souls would easily recognize their bodies.
The Egyptian Museum is at the heart of Cairo, very near the Nile in Midan Tahrir Square, where in early 2011 thousands of people marched out in revolution to successfully overthrow the president, in power for 30 years.
The authorities have discussed whether to transfer the museum to a new building that is close to the popular tourist territory of the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza. So far research has revealed that it could take up to ten years to be transferred, so for now, the centennial museum remains, which opened in 1902, and has since then seen many major renovations.
The building is clean, though some would regard it as being old-fashioned and inappropriate, compared to what is expected today from such a museum of international standing. It seems like one of those classic museums of the Tintin books, with many exhibits of various sorts on pedestals, in wood cabinets and behind glass doors. Very few of the exhibits have labels or are identified. The exhibition rooms are very high and expansive, dimly lit, with cluttered closets and boxes that randomly showcase many ancient parts and even more antiquities. The guides say that the museum's collection includes over 100,000 pieces of Egyptian art, although only 12,000 of them are on display. This apparent mass stock pile may have contributed to the disappearance of some of the items stored, which were stolen by an isolated gang of opportunist thieves during the revolution of early 2011.
Nevertheless, visitors enjoy a trip to the museum. I explored the huge colossus of Akhenaten, the pharaoh who was the chief wife Nefertiti and the colossus of Amenhotep. Also at the museum are statues of the rich Prince Rahotep with his wife Nohet, and the fantastic wooden statue of Ka-Aper. This statue from the old kingdom, was discovered made out of wood, is noted for the expression on his face and the depth of the gaze. The eyes have an outline of copper, while the white of the eye is made of quartz crystal, and the corneas of transparent stone, perforated, having been stuffed inside with putty to mimic the life of an eye.
Moreover, the exhibition holds a host of mummies. Visiting a mummy is an experience that provokes uncommon feelings. There are several exposed mummies, quite a few pharaohs, in all different ranges of conditions, yet still astonishing for their age. Traditionally they have all been dead for over 3000 years. The complex technique of embalming is impressive; it was developed by the ancient Egyptians, who relatively succeeded in allowing for their pharaohs to continue surviving through death for probably more than an additional three millennia. Perhaps the most notable of them is the mummy of Ramses, which was discovered in the late nineteenth century.
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, which is more commonly known as the Egyptian Museum, is open from 9am to 6pm, though the guards like to anticipate the closing time activity and allow the visitors a considerable amount of time in advance to vacate. The ticket costs 60 Egyptian pounds, but the visit of the royal mummies in the room requires an additional ticket for an additional 100 Egyptian pounds (which at current is about 10 British Pounds), though international currency conversions fluctuate over time.
Due to recent political activity it is recommended to research the conditions of Cairo and obtain suitable trip holiday insurance.
The Art and History of Ancient Egyptian Jewelry
Egyptian jewelry is among some of the most rare and exquisite pieces of ancient history and archaeology every found. Both men and women wore the Ancient Egyptian jewelry, and these personal adornments were not just limited to beaded necklaces and finger rings. Jewelry such as anklets, collars, bracelets, fillets and earrings embodied everyday Egyptian dress, so much so, that even in death the poorest of individuals would still be found wearing a string of beads or a simple bracelet.
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