Filed under: Construction News | Tags: COSI, hieroglyphics, Karnak, Lost Egypt, Luxor, stone, temple complex, tombs
This is one of the rooms that will be in the Lost Egypt exhibit – an area talking about tombs, artwork and hieroglyphics.
When the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids and tombs, they used solid materials like limestone and granite. On the Lost Egypt project, we need materials that are going to be durable (although not quite as durable as the Pyramids!) to last for the entire 6+ year tour of the exhibition, as it travels around the U.S., but also lightweight and easy to assemble at each new location. Wood panels that fit together using camlocks are a good solution. Showing up at the next venue with semi trucks filled with limestone ready for assembly would be a bit challenging….where are those pyramid builders when you need them?
We modeled the front façade of this room after the Karnak and Luxor temple complexes we saw in Luxor, Egypt. Transforming the simple wood structures into something that looks like stone is going to take some work, and involve the help of our Science Museum of Minnesota partners and scenic painters.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: archaeology, balloon, Cairo, Egypt, Giza, interview, Lost Egypt, Luxor, Mark Lehner, ride, science, scientific method
We’ve been averaging about 5-to-6 hours of sleep per night, and working about 17-hour days. I can barely keep my eyes open, but the incredible adventures continue every day, and I don’t want to miss a single moment. Yesterday, I got on a hot air balloon at 6AM and floated amongst 30 other balloons, watching the sun rise over the Nile, and taking photographs of the sugarcane fields and the Valley of the Kings below. We hopped an evening flight back from Luxor to Cairo, arriving around 2AM to the hotel, and slept until about 5:30AM this morning. We then headed back out to interview team members from the Giza Plateau Project.
My triumphant moment of the day – interviewing Mark Lehner, living legend of the discipline of Egyptology, esteemed archaeologist, and foremost expert on the pyramids. During the interview, we talked about the Giza Mapping Project, his discovery of the Lost City, the interfacing of different archaeological disciplines to complete pictures of ancient daily life, the importance and relevance of studying ancient Egyptian history, and scientific method involved in the process of archaeology.
The final line of questioning relating to scientific method and the proving or disproving of hypotheses brought me to tears. He essentially outlined the entire educational function of the Lost Egypt exhibit in a way that combined science, fantasy, discovery, curiosity, and the desire to seek out truth.
I couldn’t help but picture children at COSI standing in front of a kiosk station listening to Dr. Lehner speak and becoming inspired to take a similar career path. The impact of the project and the interview itself overwhelmed me. I am so proud of the work we have done here, and the product that will result from our efforts.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: bazaar, buggies, chickens, Egypt, flavor, food, horse, local, Luxor, market, organic, Quickie Mart
You wouldn’t think there’d be more to say after Kate and Carli’s entries, but there is. We ended the day at a local market, after unsuccessfully attempting to make it to the only FedEx store in Luxor before it closed (the working hours of most stores here are much more flexible than those of businesses in the States – yet another reflection of the generally relaxed attitude here).
We asked our cab driver to take us to the actual local market, not the kind of bazaar that the tourists usually frequent. And we certainly got what we asked for. It was quite obvious to everyone involved that we weren’t local, a fact that was highlighted even more by the frequent horse and buggies that ferried the tourists rapidly through the streets. What an experience. We saw live chickens being sold, colorful local fruits that were clearly grown organically, baskets of spices, donkey-pulled carts, and about as much local flavor as we’ve had the chance to experience anywhere on this trip.
Overall, our experience has been rather sanitized, as we’ve been shuttled from our sheltered hotels back and forth to the sites by a team of guides and guards who are clearly dedicated to taking the best of care of us. And while we’ve certainly been well looked after, we’ve missed out on some of the Egyptian flair that helps to further illustrate that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
It’s nice to remember that in some places, there are no such things as price tags, eye-catching packaging can be substituted with quality merchandise, and, maybe most importantly, that the vast majority of the world doesn’t do their shopping at the Quickie Mart.
Luxor Temple Courtyard
Visiting the Temple of Karnak
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: Amenhotep, Dynasty, Egypt, I love my job, Karnak, Luxor, Nile, Pharoah, Ramses II, Temple
I am sore, exhausted, and content. We had another incredible day which began at 2AM, and then we boarded a plane and flew to Luxor, the tourist mecca of the Nile Valley. The city of only 150,000 inhabitants is home to two amazing temples we had the privilege of visiting today.
The Luxor Temple was largely completed by the 18th Dynasty by Pharoah Amenhotep III and added to by Ramses II in the 19th Dynasty, and the Karnak Temple was built in the 11th Dynasty (around 1,000 B.C.) then renovated over and over by pharaohs wanting to make their mark on the country’s most important temple. Both complexes feature endless courts, halls, and row after row of towering columns. I wanted to run in-and-out of them, and was so tempted to challenge our crew to what would have been a fantastic game of hide-and-seek. But I had to keep it together, be professional, and do my job!
Along with breath-taking photography and video, we also were able to do a shoot with the niece and nephew of our Egyptologist guide, resulting in precious images of the 5 and 9-year-olds holding hands within the temples, and running their tiny hands along the hieroglyphics. Another successful day.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: Alexander the Great, Bahaa, Egypt, goddess, Karnak, lion, Luxor, Ramses II, Sekhmet, statue, stone, Temple, woman
We’ve had the most amazing time here – it doesn’t seem real. The pyramids, the Sphinx, the tomb of Ptah-hotep, the Step-Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, holding ancient pieces of flint and pottery in our hands, meeting Ana Tavares and her team, seeing camels, the Andalusian Garden, watching our guide read hieroglyphics, and always, the desert. The sand and the warm wind and the feel of it. Timeless. Whispering secrets of the past. This place will never again be a stranger to me, a place to be experienced only from books and other people’s stories.
The sunrise over the desert this morning was incredible! The window of the plane faced east, and I watched as the sky went from velvet dark to the fire of day, a crimson stripe spreading slowly across the horizon. The late phase crescent moon hung near the horizon, reminding me of the mosques we’ve seen.
Once we landed in Luxor, we headed first to the Luxor Temple, and then to Karnak. Each new row of columns was something to be discovered, with amazing scenes of Alexander (Alexandros) the Great and towering statues of Ramses II at Luxor, and the row of sphinxes connecting the two complexes. Karnak is indescribably beautiful, with golden light bouncing off the many hieroglyphic-covered columns, and the voices of hundreds of tourists calling to one another in every language, to look at the next amazing scene.
My best moment occurred when we were looking for images of the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt with our guide, Bahaa. He showed me three worn statues of the goddess Sekhmet, who has the head of a lion and the body of a woman. She was a goddess of destruction to the ancient Egyptians but was also associated with medicine.
The statues were so old and damaged that only the bottom part of them was left on two of them, and on the third one, you could barely see her lion face. I feel a special affinity for this icon, so put my hand on the sun-warmed hand/paw of the most complete statue. Our guide saw this, and said, “Do you want me to show you a complete statue? There’s one here, hidden away where most people never see it.”
By pure serendipity (that’s been the standard for this trip!), I ran into Brad Feinknopf, our photographer, as Bahaa and I were walking towards the small tomb of Ptah (Brad had been photographing elsewhere on the complex until then). He came with me, far away from the tourists and noise, to a very small and dark set of two rooms. In one of the rooms, which was almost pitch black, except for a small rectangular hole about a foot across which had been carved into the high stone ceiling above, there was the faint silhouette of my favorite goddess.
She was large – probably 8-10 feet high – and standing, still and silent in the darkness. I thought there was no way Brad could get the shot – so little light penetrated the room. He set the camera to a very long exposure, with Bahaa’s niece and nephew standing impatiently beside us, and we all waited. And waited. Eventually, the image was done, and Sekhmet was brought to life in Brad’s photograph. Wonderful.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: Bahaa, Egypt, heiroglyphics, Luxor, Ramses, Temple
At Luxor Temple today, our guide Bahaa showed us the first columns ever built. We saw so many different columns today – from the earliest versions, carved in layers and piled on top of each other, to ones carved like trees or lotus flowers at the top. The original color was still there at the top of many of them, which was incredible. It’s an amazing experience to walk through history in this way.