Newly Opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation

The National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) opened its doors a week ago in Al Fustat (ancient Cairo). NMEC houses 50, 000 objects that illustrate the history of Egyptian civilisation–from Prehistory to the present day.

nmec

Stunning photos have recently been published and the one above is my favourite. (Love the abstracted pylon-like structures that incorporate inverted pyramid light fixtures!) If you’d like to see more photos, click here. Or if you want to learn more about NMEC, you can follow the museum on Facebook or read its page on the UNESCO website.

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Statue of Hemiunu

Work has kept me away from An Archaeologist’s Diary more than I ever thought it would so far this year… and December is not going to be any different! So today’s  ARCHAEO-Crush is for October, November and December… and it was inspired by one of the men whose accomplishments were presented in my Egyptology Seminar last weekend.

Civilisation: Ancient Egypt
Date: Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4 (circa 2613-2494 B.C.E.)

ARCHAEO-Crush: This Old Kingdom statue is remarkable in a number of ways, First of all, the physique of the man depicted here is more than stunning in its appearance.  He is stocky and fleshy in a manner seldom seen in Egyptian art, which normally depicts men as eternally youthful, slim and with well-defined muscles… which is not the case with Hemiunu.  Was the man really this corpulent and he wanted to be represented in a realistic manner? Or was his massive physique synonymous with wealth and accomplishment, indicating his important status in the Egyptian government and society?
Both hypotheses are possible because Hemiunu was indeed a very important man in ancient Egypt.  The colourful inscription on the base of his statue gives us numerous titles and offices. Among other titles, Hemiunu was of royal blood (the son of either Snefru or Nefermaat), the vizier (prime minister) during the reign of King Khufu, a priest and the overseer of all the construction works of the king.  As the latter, he was in charge of all the architectural projects initiated by the king for whom he worked.  And he worked of King Khufu…. and you know what that means, right?  Hemiunu was likely the man in charge of the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza! Not too shabby an accomplishment, that!

Bucket list status: The first time I saw this statue with my own eyes was at the Royal Ontario Museum when the statue was part of the Egyptian Art during the Age of the Pyramids exhibition. The Hildesheim Museum, where Hemiunu normally resides, was under renovation and it travelled to Toronto.  I have since been to Hildesheim to him again… he’s always so impressive.

Additional information: When Hermann Junker discovered the statue in Hemiunu’s mastaba at Giza, the head had already suffered some damage. The nose was smashed and the eyes had been gauged out.  The face of the statue was restored in the early 20th century based on Hermiunu’s features as seen from a relief from the MFA Boston that shows him with an aquiline nose.

Art in Bloom (Greece and Rome)

Continuing with on my floral and spring theme, today I present the four floral arrangements that were in the Classical galleries.  These cover more square footage than the Egyptian space and more floral designs could be incorporated.

Inspired by Aphrodite of Cyrene
Floral design by Carol Inskeep

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Photographing against a sunny background is not ideal, but you see Aphrodite as an elegant silhouette. Placed behind her was an arrangement of white orchids coming out of glass vessel placed in a square container with blue glass pebbles…   just like the beautiful goddess emerging from the sea! I thought this design very witty and elegant. (My fave of those in the Classical galleries.)

Inspired by Head of a Woman in the Guise of a Goddess
Floral design by Gene Harbaugh

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

This design is well paired with the bronze female head, especially in terms of colour. It is simple, elegant and feminine, but not overly so. A sort of wreath. Yet, the squat bouquet leaves me wanting more…

 

 

Inspired by a Greek Hydria
Floral design by Sally Robinson

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

This one left me thoughtful… the dried flowers were an interesting component playing with the earth-tone colours of the ceramics in the gallery.  However, the fact that a hydria is a jar used specifically for carrying water is lost (although the vase was the colour of the seas).

 

 

Inspired by Herakles
Floral design by Jinny Marino

Flowers for Herakles

Flowers for Herakles

Interestingly, the use of the anthurium, a plant with a rather phallic red spadix, brings a touch of masculinity to the arrangement. Well, it is inspired by a statue of Herakles, a very burly one at that!  The added metal elements make reference to the Herculean strength of our marble man. Pun intended.  Herakles is the Greek version of Hercules.

I have come to the conclusion that my favourite floral arrangements at Art in Bloom were simple with crisp and elegant vertical lines; very contemporary looking.  Enjoy the arrival of spring!

Art in Bloom (Egypt)

Spring has sprung and to celebrate I thought I would share with you a couple of photos from the Museum’s Art in Bloom event, held this weekend.  Art in Bloom is exactly what it sounds like: Art. In. Bloom.  During four days the permanent galleries are delightfully decorated with superb floral arrangements that are inspired by the works of art in the collection.  Today, I am presenting the floral designs (and my impressions of them) influenced by two works of art in my Egyptian galleries.

Inspired by the False Door of NiankhSnefru, called Fefi
Floral design by Linda McLendon

Floral arrangement inspired by Fefi's False Door.

Floral arrangement inspired by Fefi’s False Door.

This was actually my favourite of the Egyptian inspired designs, although I’m not quite sure I fully see the false door in it.  (And there wasn’t a description on the label, so I really don’t know what inspired the designer.) I find the design deceptively simple and very elegant and perhaps that’s how Ms. McLendon saw the false door.  The white flowers certainly speak to the door’s unfinished state and the colour of the limestone.

Detail of Linda McLendon's floral design.

Detail of Linda McLendon’s floral design.

 

And I absolutely loved the vases—they have an Asian look, undoubtedly the reason why I was attracted to them. It’s actually hard to see on the photo featuring both the flowers and the false door together, so here’s a close-up. I have to admit, this photo does not do justice to the piece. You don’t see the wonderful colours of the wooden vases and the crispness of the blooms.  They are very precise, like the hieroglyphs on the door.

 

 

Inspired by the Bust of Sekhmet
Floral design by Karl H. Hastings, Jr.

Floral arrangement inspired by the goddess Sekhmet.

Floral arrangement inspired by the goddess Sekhmet.

I’ll be honest with you: this design did not strike my fancy. Actually none of the ones with flattened flowers or top heavy designs grabbed me.  The designer’s poetic description of the ‘ goddess of war and healing from a parched and weary land’ is also opposite of my impression of this powerful deity and the civilisation I love so  much. I see Sekhmet as a wild creature that can be tamed on occasion, two opposites that complement each other. She vibrant and full of energy, none of which I feel in this design.

And while Egypt is surrounded by desert cliffs and may appear lifeless to many, the flood plain and marshes are filled with amazing wildlife life and flora so beautifully depicted on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs.  Herodotus said it, Egypt is a gift of the Nile… it is full of life and promise.

Swap out!

Status

The banner photo of me and Khafre in the Cairo Museum has been swapped out for something more recent!  You’ll now find an image taken by NCMA photographer Karen  Malinofski after the installation of the model of a boat in the Egyptian galleries in the West Building.  It will randomly appear up in the banner…

Egypt @ Manchester

Conferences are great venues for networking and while reading the (rather impressive) programme for the CIPEG meeting I noticed that some Egyptologists I had been hoping to meet for a while were actually presenting.

One of these scholars is the current curator of Egypt and Sudan at the Manchester Museum, Dr. Campbell Price. I have been following his blog for a while and knew of his recent work and discoveries. Plus, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the museum a few years ago, before Campbell started working there. The Manchester Museum has always been a hub for mummy studies and they have a fantastic collection of daily life artefacts.  I did indeed meet Campbell during the CIPEG meeting and he’s super nice. (Apparently he reads my blog!)

Today, I’ve added a new page about the Manchester Museum in the Photo Diary and I also invite you to discover what’s going on at the museum from Campbell’s tweets and posts.

The coffins of the 'Two Brothers,' stars of the Manchester Museum!

The coffins of the ‘Two Brothers,’ stars of the Manchester Museum!

Random photos

I have been thinking for a while about adding other photos to appear randomly on my site’s image banner. (Just to spruce things up a bit!) In addition to the Predynastic pots from the Petrie Museum, you’ll now see photos of me in action (working on the dig at Dangeil, Sudan) and one of the Meroe pyramids (also in Sudan) during a visit a few years ago (it does not date to my time working there during grad school). There is even one of me in the Cairo Museum about 10 years ago! (I dug that one out of the digital mothballs!) Enjoy!