COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition


Stump Dr. Mark Lehner
June 17, 2009, 9:36 am
Filed under: From the Field | Tags: , , , ,

Author: Carli

Dr. Mark Lehner, who was at the Lost Egypt exhibit opening, is featured in COSI’s weekly podcast segment called “Stump the Scientist.” This week’s question comes from a young girl who attended the Member Preview on the exhibit opening day. She wanted to know how old the pyramids were, and how anyone could tell their age. There may not be anyone on the planet better equipped to answer that question than Dr. Mark Lehner, Director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates and foremost expert on the Sphinx.

Dr. Lehner recently paired up with Dr. Zahi Hawass, of the Supreme Council of Antiquities to film a documentary about the Sphinx, the Lost City, and the AERA Field School. The filming was a chance for the two archaeologists to take a walk down memory lane together. According to Hawass:

“On the third day of filming, Mark Lehner and I talked about how we met over thirty years ago, and how our friendship grew as we worked together, starting our first excavation to the northeast of the Sphinx. We found evidence from the different ages that the Sphinx has witnessed, including the Old Kingdom, the New Kingdom, and the Roman Period. We have been working together for decades to understand this amazing monument, and I am so happy that the two of us could tell our story together – as two boys who met in front of the Sphinx, became friends, and grew up to reveal its secrets.”

Dr. Lehner talks more about the project in the AERA newsletter. For more of Dr. Zahi Hawass on the Sphinx film, visit his blog.



Lost Egypt is Open!

Author: Carli

COSI has held an unprecedented number of opening events to kick off the Lost Egypt exhibit. We started with a Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon last Wednesday featuring COSI President and CEO David Chesebrough, Executive Director of The Columbus Museum of Art Nannette Maciejunes, and Archaeologist at the Ohio Historical Society and advisor on COSI’s Lost Egypt project Dr. Brad Lepper. We followed that up with a huge Press Preview on Thursday morning with media, sponsors, dignitaries, and community leaders, with opportunities for media to interview Dr. Mark Lehner and Ana Tavares of the Ancient Egypt Research Associates.

Friday evening was our VIP Dinner event, To Egypt & Back: an Evening with Dr. Mark Lehner, with nearly 150 people enjoying a Mediterranean-style dinner and lecture on the “Lost City” of the pyramid builders by Dr. Lehner. Saturday morning was our Member Preview where members got a sneak peak of the exhibit and saw the film Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs on the Extreme Screen. And finally, we opened to the public on Saturday at Noon. It was a marathon of events, but we had a ton of great feedback from guests that we wanted to share.

For more videos from opening weekend, check out COSI’s YouTube Channel!



Video: Moving the Mummy

Today, we moved “Annie” our mummy to her new glass encased home where she will be on display through September 7, 2009.  You could hear a pin drop as we rolled her down the hallway.



Video: Lost Egypt Artifact Installation

Today we unpacked artifacts from the Brooklyn Museum as well as the coffin and mummy from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences!



Video: Installation Walkthrough
May 12, 2009, 4:19 pm
Filed under: Exhibit Installation | Tags:

Join Josh as he walks you through the ongoing installation of the Lost Egypt exhibition at COSI:



Meeting Annie
May 5, 2009, 10:27 am
Filed under: Mummy Restoration | Tags: , ,

Author: Kate

Our conservator, Mimi Leveque, and I met at the Academy of Natural Sciences on Monday to finish conservation of the mummy for Lost Egypt, nicknamed “Annie.” The Academy staff was very helpful, and set us up behind their traveling exhibit gallery – turn right at the hadrosaur, you can’t miss it.

Mummy on table

Mummy on table

This was the first time I’ve been face to face with our mummy. I’m struck right away by how tiny she is. I knew she was four feet 11 inches, but that didn’t convey how delicate her bones were. Her shoulders are thin, like a child’s, even though she’s estimated to be 16-18 years old. Her bandages are torn in places – she is, after all, about 2,300 years old. Her mask is off at the moment, so I can see her bandaged face, covered in layers of carefully wound linen wrappings. She is incredible.

It was amazing just to sit near her, aware that this was a person who breathed and walked and laughed and died in ancient Egypt, long before I existed. She smells sweet, either from the embalming oils or perhaps the smell of the linen. It’s a rich sweetness, like something you’d find in your grandmother’s attic that speaks of a different time.

Academy team moving coffin

Academy team moving coffin

The Academy team got Annie’s coffin and lid from the display case where they have been exhibited, and brought them to us for a final cleaning before we pack them up for the show. Moving objects as large as a coffin is challenging under the best of circumstances, and here you can see the Academy team having to carefully negotiate past another mummy and coffin also in the case. Just after they got it onto the transport (an old hospital gurney), school children started arriving at the museum. They kept peering around the temporary walls, excited to see the coffin out of its case, and perhaps thinking that the mummy had come to life at last.

The Academy is a magical place, very “Night at the Museum.” It’s easy to imagine the animals and dinosaur bones and statues and mummies all coming to life when the last visitor leaves for the evening. Great museum – very cool objects everywhere – even a cannon from a shipwreck. I wish I had more time to explore!

Cartonnage boot

Cartonnage boot

Mimi has the difficult job of conserving the cartonnage “boot” that goes over Annie’s feet. While a large portion of it is still intact, the toes are gone, broken into pieces smaller than a fingernail. Mimi gets to put the puzzle back again, reconstructing the top of the foot from paper, paint, and other materials. It’s very beautiful – with intricate patterns and pictures painted all over it. There is a tiny checkerboard pattern on the bottom of the foot, and a white pattern that represents a sandal strap runs across the top. The colors are extraordinary – deep red-brown, black and white, an intense dark green. I wonder how long it took artists to paint Annie’s mask, chest plate, and boot. They are in traditional patterns, yet they were clearly made specifically for her.

Mimi is able to match the colors and feel of the paint on the cartonnage. It is similar to a gouche paint, although she uses acrylics as the modern equivalent for the conservation work. She is both an artist and a scientist, understanding the techniques and chemistry that went into creating the colors, yet with the sensitive eye of an artist, who gently re-creates what has been lost. Watching her work, I am in awe at her patience. She says conservation is “creating order out of chaos.” It is like watching someone do the world’s most difficult jigsaw puzzle, with no clue where the pieces go.

Kate working on mummy

Kate working on mummy

Kate working on mummy

Kate working on mummy

Mimi, Jonathan and team did an incredible job with the conservation efforts – the coffin, lid and mummy look so beautiful. Cracks have been filled in, coverings readjusted. Mimi put me to work on the binding strips. Annie is wrapped in bandages, then covered with a cartonnage plate that goes from her chest to her ankles. Over both of those are thin strips of linen that wrapped her tight. Those have worn out and gotten torn off over time. It’s my job to take new linen, tear it into strips the same size as those on Annie (about 1 1/4 inches), and carefully sew them in, rebinding her back together. Is the place I am standing now in relation to the mummy the same place a priest stood to tear the bandages for Annie when she was embalmed?

The old linen reminds me of the color of the Egyptian rocks – gold-brown. It’s so beautiful up close – the carefully woven linen is made up of such tiny rows. I doubt we make anything so delicate and fine today. It must have taken so long to create. Mimi showed me how to attach the strips with tiny stitches, overlapping the old and new for reinforcement. My mother taught me to sew when I was a kid, and I practiced on old pieces of linen, my hands making wobbly, inconsistent lines as I tried to master a row of stitches like my mother’s perfectly even ones. What would she have thought, had she known that the skill she so patiently taught me would eventually be used to sew a mummy’s bandages?

Mummy

Mummy

I’m happy to be here, grateful to have this experience. It’s good to see Annie being conserved, returning more to the way she was earlier in history. At the end of this first day, we surveyed our progress, and Mimi said “It’s like we’re giving her back her afterlife.”

To see a few more photos from Kate’s visit, check out this set of photos on COSI’s Flickr account.



Sarah and the Satellites
April 30, 2009, 1:11 pm
Filed under: From the Field | Tags: , , , ,

Author: Kate

Here’s a slide show that goes through the process used by our project advisor Sarah Parcak, to find archaeological sites in ancient Egypt. We’ll talk about this process in Lost Egypt as well. You can hear Sarah talk about how she uses satellites to find archaeological sites, check out a ground-penetrating radar unit, and try your hand at some remote sensing!

Josh and I are excited that we’re going to get to see Sarah again, when she’s here for the opening of Lost Egypt, in just a few weeks!

Cairo Satellite Image

Cairo Satellite Image

This is a satellite image of modern Cairo. The city appears as a large gray-brown area near the center of the image. The bright green areas are farms along the Nile River. All the lighter areas are the harsh Sahara Desert. This really gives you an idea of how much the ancient Egyptians must have depended on the Nile River, with nothing but the desert surrounding them. The image was taken by NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite, which has been instrumental in tracking land use and changes. On July 23rd, the Landsat program will have been recording satellite images of our planet for 37 years. How much has the city where you live changed in 37 years?