Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts of Cairo

I once spent an afternoon walking through Egypt's National Museum. Of course, a mere afternoon wasn't nearly enough time to explore the vast collection of treasures. I did make sure to go down into the basement where the mummies were kept in a temperature-controlled room. Words—at least mine—cannot express how I felt walking among the preserved bodies, which ranged in all stages of wrapping. Some were completely covered, some partially wrapped, and others on full display. The preservation of their skin, even after thousands of years, was surreal. Their original hair still framed their faces. The room was dark and silent and cool, with a tangible sense of awe and respect emanating from the few people allowed in at one time to move amongst the bodies of former royalty and their servants.

An entire upper floor housed King Tut's treasures, which I could have spent days walking through. When I was a little kid living in Haines, Alaska, my elementary school began raising money to prepare for a huge field trip. We were going to take the ferry to Washington, where we would attend the King Tut exhibit that was traveling the world and would be settled in Seattle for a couple months. We spent an entire school year washing cars, selling baked goods, and gathering spare change to save up for the big event scheduled the following spring. My family moved away from Haines before the field trip, and I missed that fabulous experience. You can imagine how thrilled I was to finally, decades later, view what I had once worked so hard to get near. I almost did a happy dance right there at King Tut's famous golden sarcophagus, seeing with my own eyes what I had previously only viewed in pictures and studied in books.

The rest of the Museum offers up incredible relics of an advanced society—jewelry, tools, headdresses, weaponry—that make the beaded necklaces and carved masks of our Alaskan Native museum look downright primitive. It isn't just a matter of materials—gold, exquisite woods, precious stones—but an ingenuity of design and execution. Really stunning. The thought of that amazing collection being vandalized or stolen makes me sick to my stomach, but each night I watch on the news as violence in the streets of Cairo threatens to spill over the fence and through the doors of Egypt's National Museum.

People are most important. Quality of life, freedom, peace. I know this. But oh, what a loss to the world, should the contents of that museum be destroyed.

Dinner last night: Asian chicken salad

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:


Helene said...

That would be a real shame! Almost as if they don't appreciate their own history.

Joey Lynn Resciniti said...

It's frightening to watch the news from that region. I hope they get it sorted before they destroy it all.

Karen Mortensen said...

I understand what you are saying. I hope things get settled there soon.

Katherine said...

I remember watching the news about the war in Iraq and seeing the looting of the museums and it just broke my heart. I think the loss of culture is devestating. Hopefully those precious artifacts remain safe.

Caren with a "C" said...

I would love to have seen those exhibits in Egypt. You ought to do a post of your tour with pictures. I had the same thoughts as you when I saw the news about the vandalism. How awful when people cease to be civil.

Bibi @ Bibi's Culinary Journey said...

We visited King Tut's museum in Luxor hotel in Vegas few times with our boys. Ever since then they want to go to Egypt and visit the pyramids.

I sure hope whatever is going on in Egypt will get resolved soon so their history doesn't become just a memory and pictures. That would be such a shame.

Stopping by from SITs.

Unknown said...

We visited the King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia this summer and I remember thinking that I could spend days there just looking at everything. That culture is fascinating.

white collar | green soul said...

This is exactly what a colleague of mine was discussing a few days ago. He is from Cairo and many of his family members are still there. He was saying how they should have the military surrounding the museum, at least, so that the protests stay in the streets and don't spill into the museum. It would truly be a shame.

- agata

visiting from sits. happy sits day.

Alison Agnew said...

I'm with you. I have never been to Egypt, but the time my kids and I have spent studying them in books, online and on dvd makes us almost feel as though I have. Almost. How lucky you are to have been able to go into the cool dark places of those ancient ones.

Visiting from SITS and very much enjoying reading some of your posts. Now following.



LBDDiaries said...

What a well written post - drawing us in by strolling the museum with you, then getting to the current events. Great voice! I agree - it would be a shame if the museum is destroyed! Such history.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I think that myself as I watch the news - though I've never had the privilege of actually seeing the exhibits!

Karen M. Peterson said...

I've heard some of those artifacts have been destroyed or otherwise stolen. Such a terrible thing. I can't even imagine someone breaking into the Smithsonian and destroying things, and our history is only a couple of hundred years old, compared to thousands.

EmilyinNYC said...

That was a really beautiful post. I really hope there is peace there soon.

Student Mommy said...

Wow - That must have been an amazing experience. One of our DJ's said he was awed by the fact that a ring of citizens barracaded the museum to prevent looters and vandals from gaining access. That's pretty amazing.

Saw you on Sits and had to stop by.

LisaDay said...

Fantastic post. You are right on all counts. Freedom is important but to loose that. So sad. You make me want to go even more.