The Egyptian Museum

Our first day started with breakfast at the hotel. The waiter tried many times to get us juice, but when we kept declining his offers, he instead brought us fattoush – pastry with clotted cream, cinnamon, and honey:

We met our guide for the day in the lobby and were soon joined by an expat couple and their kids. They currently live in Kenya, but the wife lived in both Denver and Seattle in the past.

We climbed into a big white van with leopard print seat covers and made our way to the Egyptian Museum:

Achmed, our guide, took us on a whirlwind tour of the highlights amidst the crowds. While we passed many interesting-looking items that I would have liked to look at, such as these vases,Achmed gave all kinds of fascinating explanations. Such as:

Egyptians who were angry about the money spent on building the pyramids took their feelings out on this statue of Cheops. By scraping off the eyes and the nose they rendered it useless for him in the afterlife. After all, his spirit would not want to return to a form that cannot breathe or see. I noticed many other figures with gouged our eyes and noses today.

This statue had Horus protecting the neck of the pharaoh:

The neck is the most vulnerable point, Achmed explained, pointing out the statue of the same pharaoh nearby that did not have Horus helping out:

On the side of the throne is an image I’ve seen elsewhere:

I didn’t know what it was, though. Achmed explained that it’s the lungs and heart of the pharaoh wrapped in the papyrus and lotus – a much more interesting symbol of unification than the strange bowing pin/cobra hat.

This statue from the Middle Kingdom, has exaggerated features to extol the virtues of the pharaoh to the illiterate peasants:

His eyes sit higher because he can see far, his ears are larger to hear the people, his arms are longer so he can do many things, and his waist is small because he works so hard he doesn’t have time to eat properly.

These figures, remarkably, are over 4000 years old and all the elements are original:

The colors and the details are extraordinary.

The eyes, also original, are glass with drops of ink for pupils:

The only thing they changed about it was cutting the figures apart so they could get the piece out of the burial chamber. Given how the ancient Egyptians felt about the afterlife, I can’t imagine the couple was too happy about that.

These two seem happy, though.

We saw similar eyes on other pieces, including this scribe with awesome eyeliner:

and this more realistic fellow carved from wood:

They had an exhibit of items from Tut’s tomb, including the famous mask. Photos were not allowed in that section, but they did have in a separate section my favorite item from when they brought his things to Denver:

Me: The cat had a scarf!

Jason: It’s a French kitty!

Speaking of cats, here’s Sekhmet, he lioness goddess of death and destruction.

I like the story of how she’s turned into Hathor, the cow goddess of peace and fertility because there are few myths in the world where a figure is completely redeemed and transformed and where the god of destruction is female.

Here’s Hatshepsut making offerings to the gods:

and Akhenaten praising the sun, his only god:

and a bunch of souls swimming along in the Duat:

All in all, a fascinating way to start the morning!

We saw some cool things this afternoon, but we have to meet a driver at 5:00 AM tomorrow morning to fly to Luxor, so it’s an early bedtime for us!

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