Sunday, November 02, 2008

Egypt - day 2 : Cairo - the museum

we pottered off for a spot of lunch - nice mezze (with Soaz getting a side of chicken with the most meat ever!) - and then back in the minivan and into the traffic, Egypt were playing Cameroon in a very important football match - so about an hour later we started an epic sprint round the massive and extremely impressive Egypt museum.

On entry we discovered that Mr Mariette (famous french egyptologist) is the only foreign egyptologist to be burried in Egpyt - in the museum grounds. Also in the grounds we saw the papyrus and lotus plants in the pond - then we entered the building itself where we found ourselves in a huge attrium with statues everywhere, Ramses II standing tall on 4 corners - totally impressive! Our guide explained how names were written in Egyptian times - by a "Cartouche" and how to recognise whether the pharaoh was ruler of both or just either one of the lower/north and/or upper/south - by the style of their hat!! we foudn out that one the painting and respresentations women and girls were stylised in white with men and boys in yellow. Capturing and documenting the history and complexity was all the responsibility of the scribes, how had to learn all the symbolisism - in 3 languages, those being the "Royal" (used by the pharaohs), the "priests" and the "people".

There were so many things to see - the number and quality of artifacts were stunning - we were overwhelmed by them all - but ofcourse the highlight was the riches discovered by Carter in 1924 when he uncovered Toutankamon's tomb - up on the 2nd floor there is a whole area dedicated to his collection - with the headmask and russian dole style coffins being the centre piece which are surrounded by his jewels.

We could have spent days in the museum trying to understand all the wealth of history, but closing time and we headed off to get some supper. We walked up to the fruit market and bought some snacks before settling down to dinner at one of the road side vendors, and were swept up in a football frenzy, with Egypt scoring 2 goals during our dinner, the crowd went wild. We called it a night in readiness for our early start dictated by a flight to Luxor.

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