COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition

Back to Reality

Author: Josh

Well, we’ve been back stateside for almost two weeks now, and I feel I can safely say that I’m no longer jetlagged. Well, at least no more than usual.

We’re busy downloading all of the information and images that we picked up on this trip, sharing with our team here and our partners at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Of course, that’s going to take a minute – Brad shot over 3,000 photos during the course of the trip, and Cindy recorded over 15 hours of video! That’s a lot of post-production work! What we’ve looked at so far has been absolutely beautiful. Be sure to check out Carli’s link to Brad’s images – pretty impressive stuff.

And we aren’t even done with the interviews! We’ll be meeting with forensic anthropologist Dr. Tosha Dupras in early April to discuss forensics and mummies. Later that month we’ll travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet with Dr. Sarah Parcak, who’s doing some incredible work using satellite imagery to identify new archaeological sites in Egypt. And later this summer, we’ll meet with Dr. Janice Kamrin, an expert in Egyptian hieroglyphs who works for the Supreme Council of Antiquities. And, of course, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to speak with Dr. Zahi Hawass…

We’ll keep updating the blog to provide the latest “behind-the-scenes” view of the making of “Lost Egypt.” There’s still plenty of excitement yet to come.


Wonder… Things that make you think
March 11, 2008, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

What’s left to say? Carli and Kate covered our experiences today nicely (as they have for the entire trip, allowing me to wax philosophic while they provide you with the real nuts and bolts of our experience), and now as I’m trying to sum up my feelings about this voyage I find myself drawing a blank.

Sleep deprivation can only be partially credited; I’ve found myself at a loss for words more than once during these past two weeks. I literally found myself wandering about the Egyptian Museum today with my mouth hanging open, surrounded by thousands of pieces of Egyptian history (125,000 pieces, to be more exact, with more than 1 million others in the museum’s storerooms).

If we consider that the first seeds of human civilization began about 10,000 years ago, then the Egyptians have dominated our landscape for roughly a third of that. Think about that. That’s six times as long as the Romans were king, roughly that for the Greeks, and about thirty times the amount of time that the United States has been a country… almost all of that took place at least 2,000 years ago. And we’ve spent the past few days retracing their footsteps.

We’ve asked ourselves more than once during the development of this exhibit, “How can we convince people to care about the past?” I’d say the answer to that question lies right here on the shores of the Nile.

These ancients speak to us about their lives, their loves, their hopes, and their dreams through each and every discovery, and as much as we’d like to convince ourselves otherwise, they weren’t that different than us. People 3,000 years ago were pretty similar to you and me. And if we haven’t changed that much during all that time, then how can those of us living on this planet right now really be all that different, regardless of our heritage, language, or religion?

Thank You… to Everyone
March 10, 2008, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

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.

Experiencing Real Egyptian Flair
March 8, 2008, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

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.

Through the Eyes of the People
March 6, 2008, 5:23 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

So today I met with the Director of the Valley of the Kings, Queens, and Workers, stared out over the 418 known tombs of Deir el-Medinah, helped arrange an interview with the man who proved the pyramids were built by skilled laborers and not by slaves, sipped tea inside of a 3,000-year-old tomb and now I’m writing this looking out over the Nile at sunset. Are you kidding me?

This trip has been absolutely amazing. As we’ve been shooting these videos and stills, I can literally place each and every one inside this exhibit that we’re building, and I feel it growing stronger with every shot we take. We’re experiencing this magnificent country through the eyes of the people who are rediscovering its past. A lot of my friends and family seem to think that this is a vacation, and while we’ve certainly worked hard, no tourist’s visit could rival the way we are connecting with this place and these people. I’d write more but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I suspect that feeling will be with me for a while.

Long Day in Luxor, Egypt
March 5, 2008, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , ,

Author: Josh

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.

Finishing the Unfinished
March 4, 2008, 6:24 pm
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Author: Josh

The last tomb we visited today was unfinished. While some of the relief carvings in the entrance chamber had been completed, others had just been begun, their solid outlines standing in stark contrast to the smooth, rounded, dimensional figures of the finished scenes. Looking at these images, I almost wanted to finish them myself, to complete the story that their artist had begun 4,400 years ago.

In a way, finishing these images is similar to what archaeologists are doing when they examine the lives of these ancient Egyptians. Every Egyptologist with whom we’ve spoken has been more excited about what they’d love to discover than they have about that which they’ve already learned. Dr. Tavares spoke yesterday of everything that they’ve yet to learn about the pyramid builders.

Our guide today, the inspector at the Saqqara site, introduced us to some of the mysteries of Saqqara, from the discovery of a tomb that was built some 2,000 years after those surrounding it to the unknown relationship between the two men found in the so-called Tomb of Two Brothers, the only tomb shared by two men that has ever been discovered.

What was it that led the ancient Egyptians to build the first columns in the history of the world at the Temple of Djoser? What led Imhotep to his stacked mastabas that formed Djoser’s Step Pyramid? And what was life like for the people carved in the Tomb of Ti, the ones baking bread, raising livestock, and preparing a feast for their master’s afterlife? The work of these amazing people whom we’re meeting will help to smooth the edges of these mysteries’ relief, allowing us to see their image as it was meant to appear.