Last week I attended a conference on the complexities of moving and displaying objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun. These world-renowned artefacts, from perhaps the greatest archaeological find in history, have already begun to be moved from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to a new home in the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza, which will display objects focusing on the themes of kingship and eternity – including the Tutankhamun tomb group. International participants met between 10-14th May in various venues in Cairo to discuss possible approaches.
Dr Tarek Tawfik, Director of the Grand Egyptian Museum Project, opens the Tutankhamun conference at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC)
The issues posed by the move are manifold. How to conserve often very fragile objects that have rarely – if ever – left their 90 year old display cases? How to transport them safely? How to interpret them in…
Did you know that since 1977 museums are celebrated internationally each year on or around May 18. International Museum Day was declared by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in order to raise awareness in the fact that “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” (As quoted from the IMD page on the ICOM website.)
In 2015, the theme of IMD is “museums for a sustainable society.”
After my Sacred Motherhood exhibition closed in early December, I got several requests from docent and visitors alike for a checklist of the artwork so they could create their own tour on this theme. This got me thinking and, after consulting with blog editor Karen K, I created an illustrated and captioned self-guided tour of the permanent galleries using the works of art that were in the exhibition and adding a couple of others.
The slide show post entitled Create Your Own Mother’s Day Tour was posted on Circa, the Museum blog, earlier in the week and I immediately received comments from volunteers and docents saying they were very excited about creating their own tour. In fact, the blog post got picked up by WRAL.com’s Go Ask Mom chronicle as a suggestion of something to do this Mother’s Day weekend. Cool, huh?
Last week, I travelled to Michigan to visit the Egyptian and Classical collections at the Detroit Institute of Art (Dr. Nii Quarcoopome kindly toured me around their lovely Egyptian galleries) and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
A glance at the exhibition on jackal gods in ancient Egypt (now closed).
You might recall a post I reblogged a while back about the exhibition Death Dogs: Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt. Well, I went to see the exhibition mentioned in that post. It was very lovely and it had super cool banners! Death Dogs is a small permanent collection exhibition with a focus on canine deities in ancient Egypt (beloved by children and Egyptologists all over the world). I’m all for that sort of thematic exhibition. I like to explore new ways to present material with which people may already be familiar… the objects feel new when you display them differently, following a theme. It was nice little show curated by Egyptologist Terry Wilfong.
However, I had another reason to go to Ann Arbor. I have been hearing great things about the university, reading fabulous excavation reports by Egyptologist Janet Richards and the conservators working on site with her at Abydos, and, while attending the Nubian conference in Switzerland back in September, I had met Geoff Emberling, who works there as well. So from Detroit, I drove to Ann Arbor and met with Janet, Suzanne Carrie and Madeleine. Everybody was so nice and I had great time touring with Janet in the galleries as well as in storage, and spending time in the lab with the conservators after lunch.
It was a great trip and it gave me great ideas for future Weinberg lectures!
TEMPLE OF AMENHOTEP III AT SOLEB Type: monument (jubilee temple) Civilisation: ancient Egypt Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III, circa 1386-1349 BCE ARCHAEO-Crush: The temple at Soleb, built in Sudan by the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III, is probably my favourite Nubian monument. (During the New Kingdom the Egyptians had colonised Sudanese Nubia.) I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for Amenhotep III, but the reason of my ARCHAEO-Crush is much more visceral than that. The temple at Soleb is in fact the first Egyptian temple I ever visited, even though I had visited Egypt 18 years prior. I have a very vivid souvenir of seeing this temple for the very first time, on the trip from Khartoum to Sedeinga. I was on the lorry that crossed the Bayuda Desert and travelled further north to remote towns and villages. It’s a long trip and a fun story that I hope one day to include in the Day in the Life of an Archaeologist chronicle. As I was saying, I was on the lorry, sharing the front seat with the driver and another gentleman, when I saw magnificent ruins in the distance. I knew immediately it was the temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb—its profile is unmistakable. The other passenger, with whom I had been chatting in horrible Arabic (me, at the time I knew about a dozen words!!!) and slightly better English (him), pointed to the ruins and asked me if that’s where I was going to work. No, not there. There are too many columns at this temple. The temple at Sedeinga has only one column still standing. This is Soleb. The temple of Amenhotep at Soleb…
During the dig season, when the Sedeinga dig director offered me to visit Soleb in the company of Hourig Sourouzian, visiting Egyptologist and expert Amenhotep III, I immediately said yes. I had a fabulous day exploring the site with Hourig and two other archaeologists. We also helped her search for fragments of statues of Amenhotep in the old storerooms of the Schiff-Giorgini mission. It was amazing to have the site entirely to ourselves… something you’ll not experience at Luxor or Karnak where you’ll be surrounded by tons of tourists.
The site of Soleb is amazing and one of the most impressive in Sudan: several columns are still standing and two of them actually still hold up an architrave! I could talk about this temple and many others until your ears fall off (I wrote my thesis on Amun temples in Nubia and this temple was included in my corpus). So, instead, I’m leaving you with a few pictures I took of this incredible temple during my one and only visit to Soleb. Bucket list status: Been there, done that… and would love to do it again! Additional info: The site of Soleb and its temple are not on the UNESCO World Heritage list.