Thursday, October 14, 2010

A day in the Old Kingdom

Memi and Sabu
Dynasty 4 (ca. 2575-2465 B.B.)
Painted limestone
Probably from Giza

New York

A bit quiet from my corner of the world this week, part of it because we have some wild plans about the future. I will have to tell you all about that later and also because I made myself a perhaps unrealistic goal of an autodidactic venture of the "whole" of Metropolitan Museum. Supposedly the largest Museum in the Western Hemisphere and not only that but perhaps the greatest and broadest encyclopedic collection of art.

That said I began last Friday, enthusiastic and inspired. After 5 hours without any break I had only gotten myself to the time of Hatshepsut (1508 - 1458 B.C.) and even then I felt slightly I rushed. 

To share some of the Ancient Egypt´s treasures with you, I took some pictures and here are my highlights so far:
Seated Woman Nquda II ca. 3650 - 3300 B.C.

Notice the ankle bracelets and the hair, supposedly a wig of unknown substance.

Ornamental Comb
End of the Predynastic Period, ca 3200 B.C.
Ivory, probably elephant

The comb has lost it´s teeth, but what is interesting here is that combs are actually some of the oldest surviving tools. This comb is especially important with it´s beautifully detailed inscription, it not only describes the beginning of writing but also a sort of order between the tamer and the hunter. Illustrating elephants standing on serpents at the top, storks, a giraffe, hyenas, wild bulls and wild pigs.

Mud Turtles Ca. 3650-3500

Greywache is a variety of Sandstone. Supposedly a very hard and dark stone and difficult to work with.
I thought this piece was so adorably different that I had to add it.

Funeral Boat Paddling (Ca. 1981-1975 B.C.)
Dynasty 12
Painted wood
Model chamber, tomb of Meketre
Western Thebes

These boats are incredible, there were several of them that had been in the same tomb.  Illustrating the different boats a king would have to bring with him into afterlife. One for cooking, one for leisure another for sporting, this boat is possibly the funeral pilgrimage.
The Bakery
Dynasty 11, c. 2009- 1998 B.C.
Some sort of Study with Papyrus rolls 
2nd. room a place where they dump sacks of grain
(don´t remember the title, unfortunately)
Dynasty 11, c. 2009-1998
Slaughter Room
Dynaty 11, c 2009- 1998 B.C.

Even back then, the cows were fattened up before they were slaughtered.

Dynaty 11, C. 2009-1998 B.C.

These wooden boxes are incredible. What a fantastic way to study how their life was then. Stunning how intact the boxes are, even part of the linen the figures were originally wrapped in survived the 4000 years in-between. The Garden with its pool and the surrounding sycamore trees a sacred little heaven.

Offering Bearer
Dynasty 12, early reign of Amenemhat I
ca. 1981-1975 B.C.
Painted wood, Western Thebes, tomb of Meketre.
Excavations 1920.

The interesting aspect of this statue is that she is a bearer and therefore can seem as a servant of some kind. But she has a dress on that looks like it was made of feathers and she strides purposely forward. Normally, the statues of this time the Women looked stagnant and the men as more action driven with their one foot in front of the other.

King Wha´s necklace 
What men wore then...
Large and small tubular wig ornaments
Dynasty 12, reign of Senwosret II-Amenemhat III
ca. 1887-1813 B.C.
Gold, modern wig.
A fabulous restored wig.

Mummy room
From Meir, Between Luxor and Cairo
Dynasty 12, Ca 1878-1786

This mummy room is filled with boxes decorated with hieroglyphic text, where they idealized the life the person had led on earth.
The mummies underwent a removal of internal organs, and water and body fluids before they were filled with sodium carbonates. Embalmed and wrapped in white linen.
A Cat scan of the mummies show an average age at death to be between 35-45 years, and an average height of 5"6. This sounded very tall to me, I feel like I have always been told that we are much taller now than in the past? 
Through Cat scans they can also figure out the death reason, trauma, infection etc. Incredible.
Statuette of a Dancing Pygmy
Mid-Dynasty 12 (ca. 1900-1850 B.C.)
This dancer was originally part of four such dancers. Somehow they had a string mechanism that allowed them to be rotated. 
The Female Pharaoh Hatshepsut
Ca. 1479-1458 B.C.

I have always been thrilled by the existence of Hatshepsut "Foremost of Noble Ladies", since I read a book about her in the early 90´s. I think it was the Novel "Child in the Morning" by Pauline Gedge. Not for sure but it released a Hatshepsut revival in Oslo at the time with an exhibition on Aker Brygge, if I don´t remember wrongly...
She was regarded as the most successful of pharaohs and reigning longer than any other women from the Egyptian dynasties and also throning in the peak period of Egyptian arts. Incredible that so many of the statues of her still exists, since the next ruler Thutmose III ordered an elimination of Hatshepsut from the historical records.
Deep in some Hatshepsut dream I just sat in the Hatshepsut room and watched her while a young man took a picture, unnoticed by me. After he came up and showed it to me saying "See, you are sitting just like her, you look like her".
A flattering comment after a rich day of living yourself into another world, another time.

With Love


  1. I got to visit there in april and loved it. do not walk around in paree all day with flats and then try to do that museum. oy.

  2. I could do this kind of thing all day! And I swooned seeing this - I once set myself the same goal (but even after half a decade in NYC, I *still* didn't manage to visit everything at the Met :))'s amazing to get lost in another world. Thanks for sharing the wonder & beauty :)

  3. I so would love to do this..and spend a day there!
    That is amazing and thanks you for this cool post! So many amazing things
    Happy Thursday

    ps: I cant wait to hear about the news

  4. Wow! This is why I love museums, so interesting and amazing!

  5. Very beautiful indeed. Then there is always Cleopatra & Hypatia: albeit not "Eqyptian". Nice writup and photos. I love the Met!

  6. i love going to the met... isn't it amazing that they have those wigs that are still in great shape... great post!

  7. Amazing exhibit!
    Awesome photos!


  8. Isn't ancient Egypt just amazing? I have a love affair with it too, something that did rub off on me from my dad. Also, I love your autodidactic project! :)

  9. Fantastic pictures!! Look at King Wha's necklace....stunning!! :)SarahD

  10. I can't get over the detail in the boats!

  11. Lovely tour- it has been a few years since I was at the MM- but I used to go often with my parents.
    Can't wait to hear your news.

  12. Wow Kristen! Thank you for this fantastic review. I don't know how you do it. Wonderful!

  13. omg! this necklace is fab! i would love to wear it now :P
    thank you for passing by and leaving your sweet comment! i'm happy you liked my blog! remember you can keep in touch with my blog via blogger, bloglovin or facebook!

    xoxo from rome

  14. Egypt is SO fascinating! We have a great exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.