After a stop to gaze at the Nile we had lunch in ‘Downtown’ Cairo with Mohammed. The food was tasty, reminiscent of the kind of fare we have been eating in Turkey for the past four years and better still it was cheap. Result.
The Egyptian Museum. Blimey. It hasn’t half got a lot of stuff in it. To be honest you would probably need a month to see what’s on display and then you might start to understand and retain some of the history. Better still, read Egyptology at university, join a few Egyptian excavations and then go and have a look at the treasures. If you’ve only got a few hours, however, then do what we did: go through the guide book and pick out the bits you want to see. Go directly to those rooms, do not get side-tracked, do not go elsewhere, just go.
The Tutankhamun exhibits are so fantastic I nearly cried. Words are not enough and I’m not going to try to describe them here. Suffice to say that Jamie and I were open-mouthed and lost in our own worlds as we gazed on these treasures.
The other major highlight for me was the jewellery rooms. How on earth did they make such intricate and exquisite pieces? I almost laughed to see the designs, all of which are still being reproduced in some way or another today, from the clasps and settings, shapes and forms, to the colours and finishes. Everywhere in the museum is any designer’s dream. Inspiration punches you in the head every time you turn a corner and are assailed by the original forms and colours that have shaped our world. You can see why since discovering these treasures we have been insatiable in our appetite for all things Egyptian.
We finished our tour of the museum by paying a huge amount of money to enter the tiny tomb-like Mummy room. It was well worth the E£100 (around £11 sterling). There in front of you, carefully laid out in glass cases, kept at a steady temperature and lighting level are Ramses II, Seti I and assorted other royals. Teeth, hair, fingernails are preserved. Extraordinary. We wondered what they would think about being gawped at by people 4000 years after their deaths. I decided that they would consider it only natural that they should still be revered and worshipped after all this time.
It’s a funny old place this Egyptian Museum. Packed full of some of the finest treasures of all time and steeped with history, the way it is displayed is pretty dreadful. Monuments and statues are covered in dust, the extremely poor lighting means you miss half the detail and what seemed like half the exhibits we saw have no accompanying information. The building itself seems pretty imposing but millions of dollars are needed to bring it in line with some of its counterparts around the world. The funny thing about it? It’s still brilliant!
There are always idiots
So, you’ve just paid a small fortune to enter the Royal Mummy room at the Egyptian Museum, where you are asked to be quiet and not take photos. Your camera has been left outside the museum in a secure place because you are not allowed to bring it in. What do you do? You take out your phone and flash away at these ancient mummified people, who are kept at carefully regulated moisture, temperature and lighting levels to stop them decomposing. You are an idiot. You are the reason why some conservators want certain exhibits to be withheld from the uninformed and selfish masses. You have been warned.
All images taken from the internet, various sources.