Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CLXXV. A Return Visit (4 of 15)

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (or simply The Egyptian Museum) 

My tour included a visit to the Egyptian Museum. Considering what ancient Egyptians left behind, you will not be surprised to hear that even a partial visit that can do justice to the wealth of this museum is impossible.

Magdi, being a curator at this museum, was the ideal person to guide me through it. I cannot overstate Magdi’s knowledge, nor his lively narrative. For four solid hours he never stopped describing and explaining. When his energy lagged, his enthusiasm took over! And, as I was listening with utter fascination, I realized that I was not alone! A crowd of tourists gathered around us at each exhibit, and some followed us; Magdi simply smiled at them, an indication that he didn’t mind them.

When he felt satisfied that he had shown me the essential of this museum, he took a pad and started writing furiously, he then tore the paper, handed it to me, and said, “come again to visit as much as possible from this list.” It was not a suggestion, it was an order! In any case, I did intend to visit the museum a second time, and when I went, his list proved invaluable.

I would be lying to you if I told you that I can remember, after all these years, what I saw in this museum, but with the help of some research, I was able to jog my memory. What follows is but a very small sample.

The Old Kingdom (3rd to 8th Dynasties) section included: The colossal head of Userkaf; beside the Sphinx, it is the only large sculpture surviving from the Old Kingdom.

Statuettes of a dwarf; a man with a deformed head; a hunchback; people grinding corn, kneading dough, and preparing food.

5th Dynasty bas-relief showing scenes of country life; men and women are going about their work; the women wear a top going to their ankles, the men wear only a cloth or are sometimes entirely naked. They are circumcised as was the Egyptian custom.

There is a superb statue of Chephren in black diorite with white marbling.

There is a wooden statue that has become famous. Whoever sculpted the statue of Ka-aper was a remarkable artist. Looking at it, you feel you have Ka-aper staring at you. The living eyes are copper inlaid with quartz, the level gaze stare into your soul. When it was found, the workmen immediately dubbed it Sheik El Balad because of its resemblance to their village headman. And Sheik El Balad it remains to this day.

The copper statues of Pepi I and his son are the first metal statues known, and that of Pepi is the largest of its kind.

The Middle Kingdom (11th to 13th Dynasties) section included: The burial chamber of Horhotep. Its decorated doors allow space for the ka (soul) to flit in and out at will. Around the section are ten statues of Sesostris.

The New Kingdom (18th to 20th Dynasties) section included: A fine statue of Tuthmosis III in grey schist.

A pink granite statue of Hatshepsut.

A typical house as excavated at Amarna, Akhenaton’s brief capital on the Nile near Minya.

Akhenaton was one of the greatest of Egypt’s Pharaohs; he believed in the one-god, except that this god was Aton, the sun disc. Here you will find four collosi of this pharaoh.

In its own glass case there a magnificent head of a the beautiful queen Nefertiti.

The different pharaohs with the Ramses name have their own space.

Then there is the Tutankhamun Exhibition; The Greco-Roman Period; The Mummy Room; The Prehistoric and Predynastic Periods; and on it goes.

Like in any museum, not all artifacts are on display; about one-third only are exhibited.

The bad news here is that the museum is in Cairo’s busiest traffic intersection. It is ill lit, and it relies on open windows (bringing in pollution) for ventilation. Space is tight, larger premises are badly needed; during busy periods, it is difficult to properly see the items on display.

Considering the numerous excavations going on, much more objects will be added. Ancient Egypt and its treasures cries out for attention. Future generations will curse us if we do not properly care for this magnificent heritage. But Egypt has no money; Europe right now (2011) is in the hole for billion of euros; and the U.S. has a national debt of trillion of dollars. My advice: Go now to visit Egypt, waiting may not be an option for long.

Comments are closed.