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November 15, 2009

A peek back 3000 years

I'm slightly astounded that the Egyptian government would allow a tomb of one of their Kings to be unearthed and put on display all over the world but, ironically, I'm also grateful that they did allow it.

The items buried with  King Tutankhamen date back more than 3000 years and they're so beautifully preserved that it would really be a shame if the world couldn't see them and appreciate them - in a respectful setting, of course.   Especially if the alternative is that they stay buried and slowly rot away to nothing over time. 

King tut

This weekend, our friends Chris and Phyllis met us in San Francisco where we hooked up with Michael (pictured above with his sisters) and we all traveled over to the De Young Museum where we visited the King Tut exhibit.  Gwen and Maddy were quite curious about the "Boy King" and wanted to be carried from room to room so they could more easily see inside all of the artifacts and exhibits.   Throughout all of it, I kept marveling that everything was really over 3000 years old.  Especially astonishing was the ancient furniture!  It's mind boggling to think that wood could survive that long and equally amazing to think about how the intricate and precise pieces were constructed without the benefit of power tools and were of such quality to stand a true test of time.  Gilded items notwithstanding  (especially those with scarabs), most of the pieces looked like they could easily be something from my own living room! 

There were two very small coffins on display that contained stillborn baby girls (perhaps tiny princesses?).   I couldn't help but think about how much they must have been loved and wanted and missed and how devastating the miscarriage was to her royal parents.  Even though life was obviously much different back then, some things apparently never change.

After seeing the small sarcophagus with its x-rayed contents, Gwen regarded every other small container as though it also might contain a dead baby.  She was pretty concerned about it and was eager to point out (to everyone's relief) when she'd look inside something and it didn't contain the remains of a mummified fetus. 

The tour ended with a lifesized photographic display of King Tutankhamen's coffin and it's contents in various stages of reveal.  At first, it was a bit disappointing (that a King Tut exhibit didn't actually contain King Tut) but I quickly came to appreciate that the photo exhibit showed more detail than we'd ever be able to see otherwise.  Especially the items entombed with him.  Simply amazing!!  Really, words can't describe it.  It was an expensive tour but a really fascinating and memorable one and something I'm glad to have seen.  I really think was worth every penny.  


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