Filed under: Construction News | Tags: Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, Ana TAvares, Ancient Egypt Research Associates, archaeology, Brad Feinknopf, Dr. Mark Lehner, Lost City, Lost Egypt, pyramid
It’s been an amazing summer with “Lost Egypt” at COSI. There were several particularly memorable experiences for me.
- After years of looking at a small table-top paper scale model of the exhibit, it was incredible to walk into the gallery for the first time and see the real exhibits and murals and walls. Seeing the large scale murals of Egypt, as well as Brad Feinknopf’s photos in the hallway, reminded me of our trip to Egypt.
- Watching visitors at our member event with archaeologists Dr. Mark Lehner and Ana Tavares from Ancient Egypt Research Associates, and Dr. Jonathan Elias from the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, was so great. I got to introduce two girls who want to become archaeologists to Ana as they walked through the exhibit!
- I saw hundreds of people climb on the camel, build a pyramid, search out the archaeological clues from the Lost City site, move a pyramid block, discover artifacts, watch a show about the afterlife, come face to face with a mummy, explore tomb art, and study the forensic science behind mummies. I really hope we managed to capture some of the excitement and sense of wonder that is the science of archaeology, and share it with our visitors.
- We performed formal evaluations, received written comments, and overheard lots of conversations about “Lost Egypt”. We really value all the comments from visitors and colleagues – everything that was said about what you liked and didn’t like, what you found compelling, beautiful, or boring, is so useful in planning our future exhibits. Thank you to everyone who participated.
Now we’re preparing to close “Lost Egypt”. I feel a bit like I’m sending my kid off on her first day of school. “Lost Egypt”is heading out into the world to tour the U.S. for the next several years. It was the most wonderful, exhausting, amazing and challenging work project I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful for the help of Josh, Carli, Jenn and all the others at COSI who helped turn the idea into reality. And the Science Museum of Minnesota team who brought it to life was incredible – I miss working with all of you, and hope we can head off to Jordan or Greece or Mexico for the next adventure some day soon! It’s been a privilege to work on Lost Egypt, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: Cairo, COSI, Egypt, exhibit, Giza, interview, Lost City, Lost Egypt, Mark Lehner
Sorry for our missing entries from yesterday-we stole some moments in the afternoon for some much-needed rest, sleep that was pretty much negated by another late-night flight (this time, back to Cairo) followed by another 5 am alarm clock bell. But please don’t regard this as a complaint. While we have certainly been burning the candle at both ends, there is no doubt in my mind that this trip has been a wild success.
After spending our time yesterday refining the rest of our itinerary, rewriting some interviews, and reviewing our remaining shots, we had the chance to film some more incredible interviews today. As Carli mentioned, we met with Dr. Mark Lehner, who was absolutely amazing.
After having spent so much time the past few months reading about Mark’s work, the opportunity to sit down with this remarkable scientist was one of the high water marks of my professional career. Hearing him speak so passionately and eloquently about archaeology in general and Giza specifically, and visualizing the way his words melded beautifully with our exhibit…well, words fail to describe.
But in addition to meeting with Mark, we had the pleasure of meeting with some of the members of his team at the Giza site. We spoke with Mary Anne Murray, an archaeobotanist, Anna Wodlinska, a ceramicist, and Camilla Mazzucato, a GIS specialist. Each of these women provided us with more wonderful insight into their jobs at the Lost City and how what they do is influenced and enhanced by the other members of their team.
It’s been a revelation to me just how wonderful and gracious each and every person whom we’ve interviewed has been thus far. They’ve given freely and happily of their time, in some cases with very late notice, and each and every expert has provided us with more real scientific information that we can place directly into Lost Egypt. I can’t imagine having created this exhibit without their thoughts, expertise, and good will. If any of you are reading this now, again, I thank you.
It’s hard to believe that we will leave this wonderful place in just over a day. Each and every day here brings new discoveries and more breathtaking sites, and our little exhibit has grown infinitely stronger with each passing hour. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to return…well, no time for sentiment now. We’ve another full day tomorrow.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: 2650 BC, architecture, COSI, Giza, limestone, Lost City, mer, pyramid
The world fears time. Time fears the pyramids. These monuments have defeated time. Built in 2650 BC during the “Old Kingdom” 4th Dynasty, these colossal structures reach 481 feet, use 2 million blocks of limestone, and weigh 2.5 to 15 tons per block. They cover 13 acres of land, built entirely on bedrock.
The architecture is flawlessly built at a 52-degree angle, with all 4 sides nearly equal, and the skillfully cut blocks each absorbing pressure from the layers above it. The word pyramid is actually Roman. The original Egyptian word is “mer” meaning “ascending to heaven.” And when you stand in their shadow, touching the cold 5000-year-old limestone, you truly feel like they could reach the sky.
Giza Plateau Panorama Video
At the Base of the Giza Pyramid Video
Interviewing Ana will be the highlight of my trip. She was eloquent, conversant, and the camera loved her. We asked her questions about the process of archaeology, the Field School, the Lost City, careers in archaeology, conservation / preservation, sustainability, her own goals and aspirations, and on and on. It was a remarkable interview and will result in incredible sound bites for both the exhibit and our media needs.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: Ana TAvares, COSI, Giza, Lost City, Lost Egypt, Pizza Hut, pyramids, Sphinx
There are few moments in one’s life that one can truly describe as transcendent, where you become fully aware of being a part of something larger than yourself. Today I felt more of those moments than I was perhaps due in a lifetime.
Arriving at the pyramids was breathtaking. They sit, quite literally, just outside of Cairo (or, as our guide pointed out, just outside of Giza-technically, all of the city west of the Nile is Giza), with the gates to the Sphinx located directly across the street from a Pizza Hut. Walking up to these tremendous structures takes your breath away, especially when one considers the scope of these construction projects. But the transcendent moments began when we met with Dr. Ana Tavares at the Lost City site.
Having worked on this project for several months now, I’ve read quite a bit about the Lost City: how it was discovered, how it was excavated, how its mere presence confirms that the incredible monuments of the Giza Plateau were built not by slaves but by a well-fed, well-cared for workforce. But to stand at that site, with the pyramids towering in the background, speaking to a woman whose work had quite literally helped to rewrite history…well, suffice it to say there’s a reason we’ve chosen to tell this story in the exhibit.
Looking back, I realize that this exhibit we’re building is bigger than any one of us; it’s the surreptitious meeting of hundreds of separate elements, all lending themselves to the creation of what we hope will be a spectacular whole. I wonder if any of those workers whose homes we stood in today felt something similar almost 5,000 years ago.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: Ana TAvares, COSI, Giza Field School, Giza Plateau, Lost City, osteology, pyramid
Group shot of us: Carli, Josh, and Kate
Our guide on this trip is a friend of Ana Tavares, co-director of the Giza Field School and member of the Lost City archaeological team. We called her yesterday, and met up with her today at the Giza Plateau. We were able to go behind-the-scenes and join her and part of her team at the Lost City site. They are currently dealing with the issue of rising groundwater at the site. Even though the excavated buildings have been back-filled with clean, sterile sand, the salt is still leaching to the surface in several areas, showing the effect on the architecture, as it flakes away.
Ana was amazing. She spent most of the day with us, letting us interview her on a variety of subjects and pose her on rocks, sand, and elsewhere for photos and the high-definition videography for the project. The time with her was more than any of us could have hoped for, and we overwhelmingly felt that this day alone made the whole trip worthwhile!
This afternoon another member of the team joined us – Jessica Kaiser. She is the author tell in the exhibit, and we interviewed her in the sand, with a pyramid behind her, on the exact spot where she and the osteology team had uncovered the bones. She told us about the field of osteology, and how she can determine gender, diseases, age, and other information from studying bones. She told us about the amulet necklace found with the girl, and its significance. All in all, it was an amazing and serendipitous day.
Getting ready – Carli Gives an Overview