COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition

A Part of Something Larger than Life
March 3, 2008, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

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.


Omelet du Fromage
March 2, 2008, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

Steve Martin does a routine on his album “Let’s Get Small” where he talks about learning to say “cheese omelet” in French. Armed with this limited knowledge, he enters a restaurant in Paris and proceeds to order a shoe with cheese on it while asking the waiter to force it down his throat.

After a day where the cultural insults I’ve been doling out have become almost ubiquitous, I’m starting to feel like I’ve had Steve’s cheese-covered shoe stuffed into my mouth. I’ve managed to display the sole of my shoe in public (a huge faux pas) and declined coffee when it was offered to me by an official (a nice display in the States, a rather egregious slight in Cairo). My fastidious attempts to be culturally sensitive have thus far resulted in a humbled sense of self and a strong taste of cheese in my mouth.

Another World – Yet So Close to Home
March 1, 2008, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

Egypt has always been one of those ethereal places in my mind: frozen in time, with monuments to humankind’s timeless accomplishments hovering against a background of mystery. I pictured the pyramids as being remote, the people exotic, the setting almost otherworldly. Stepping onto the plane yesterday afternoon, I imagined myself stepping off today in a different world.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before. Having been in the city for almost six hours now, I could almost convince myself that we haven’t even left the country, let alone walked off the edge of the planet. We’re staying at a Marriott, and the rooms look remarkably similar to those at countless other Marriotts where I’ve crashed for a night or so. Driving to the hotel from the airport, we drove past billboards advertising for Pizza Hut, Jeep, and Heinz Ketchup (the last of which featured none other than the Tasmanian Devil). I could have eaten a bacon cheeseburger for dinner and washed it down with a Diet Pepsi before swinging by an ATM machine and calling my wife on my cell phone. So much for the land that time forgot.

And honestly? I prefer this version of reality to the fantasy I’d created for myself. Sure, the creature comforts are great, but more than that I think that being surrounded by all of the trappings of modern society makes the Egyptians’ ancient accomplishments that much more impressive. Because if I’d be lost without the sounds of “NCIS” and “American Idol” on the hotel television, I can’t even fathom how I’d begin to build structures that could stand for 4,000 years.

Touch Down! In Egypt
March 1, 2008, 5:02 am
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , ,

Author: Kate

When the plane touched down, everyone spontaneously applauded. We’re in Egypt! The street signs are in Arabic and English. On the way to the hotel, passing through Heliopolis, “the city of the sun,” I saw graffiti on walls and columns – names written in Arabic with spray paint. I love that this is a universal form of artistic expression.

At dinner tonight, at an outdoor cafĂ©, eating scrumptious lamb and hummos sandwiches, I searched the sky for familiar stars and constellations, but clouds obscured my view. There are so many stories and customs from this place and these people – both old and new. I want to learn as many of them as I can while we’re here.