COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition

The Egyptian Goddess, Sekhmet, and Me by Kate
March 5, 2008, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author: Kate

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.


Long Day in Luxor, Egypt by Josh
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.