COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition

Prototyping a Camel by COSI
May 22, 2008, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Construction News | Tags: , , , , ,

Author: Kate Storm

We’re working on my favorite exhibit components for Lost Egypt – a life-sized camel! Our project partners on the exhibition, The Science Museum of Minnesota, found an amazing company, Blue Rhino Studios – – to design and build a camel for us.

We’ve been looking at materials, size, scale, and all the other issues that go into designing a large one-humped camel, aka “Camelus dromedarius,” if you like to know the Latin genus and species. One-humped camels are called dromedaries, and are found in North Africa and the Near East. Two-humped camels are called bactrians or “Camelus bactrianus,” and are typically found in central Asia. We only saw the dromedaries in Egypt, probably because it’s in North Africa.

While camels aren’t really used much for transportation in Egypt today, you can still see them at the Giza Plateau and at Saqqara. We saw the camel below, which gave rides to tourists. I loved the colorful halter, although the picture really can’t capture the smell of a camel in the hot sun, which is definitely something…memorable. See the long eyelashes? They’re great for protecting the camel’s eyes from the desert sand.

In Saqqara, the guards rode camels, so the gear was less gaudy and more utilitarian. We needed to get photo references for Blue Rhino while we were in Egypt, since it’s challenging to figure out exactly what a camel looks like lying down. Their legs fold in on themselves like origami – very strange! So we asked the guards if we could take pictures of their guard camel. They laughed when they noticed us taking this photo of the back end.

Blue Rhino has produced lots of other animals as well – check out the detail on the moose, bobcat, and other animals on their website. The artists at their studio have designed a small clay model, called a maquette, which you can see below.

A maquette is a small scale model which is useful to test your concepts, without the expense of producing a full-sized version. This prototype is studied by the whole design team, and changes are made to it. We’ve already made several changes to our camel based on the maquette, including the way the head is turned and the angle of the neck. The human being in the model is scaled to represent someone 6’ tall, just to give an idea of the camel’s size. I can’t wait to see this when it’s done!


The Dakhleh Oasis Project by COSI
April 28, 2008, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Construction News | Tags: , , , , , ,

Author: Kate

We’re continuing to film interviews for the Lost Egypt exhibition. Two weeks ago we met with Dr. Tosha Dupras at WOSU@COSI.

Tosha is one of our project advisors, and has been with us since the beginning of Lost Egypt. She’s an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Central Florida, and she teaches human osteology (the study of human bones), and forensic anthropology. She works at a couple of different sites in Egypt: the Dakhleh Oasis Project, and more recently, Dayr al-Barsha.

We had a great time interviewing her – it was fascinating to hear her talk about forensics and the bones she uncovers. She left for Egypt last week for another field season. Here’s my favorite picture of her, riding one of the military camels in Egypt!

The Dakhleh Oasis Project is really interesting. It is in the Western Sahara Desert in Egypt, one of five major oases there. Many different archaeological teams from universities and organizations work there, looking at many different time periods in Egyptian history, since there have been people living or traveling through the oasis from the Middle Pleistocene (around 400,000 years ago!) through today.

Scientists are studying the interaction between environmental changes and human activity here, which helps us better understand the present-day problems of life in a desert oasis, where there is fertile soil but a finite supply of water.

The Dayr Al-Barsha Archaeological Project is being led by an archaeological team from Belgium. Talking to Tosha about her different projects made us realize how many different languages you need to speak, read or at least understand as an anthropologist or archaeologist.

There are universities and organizations around the world leading the projects, and even within a team from the United States, there are often people from different countries hired as specialists. In addition, within Egypt, most of the teams are assisted by local crews, so communication is a big issue. French, German, Dutch, and Egyptian Arabic are among the languages it is useful to know (not to mention being able to read hieroglyphics!).

Egypt & Back in 22 Minutes by Carli
March 24, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , ,

Author: Carli

Our photographer, Brad Feinknopf, has posted a slideshow of photographs from our Egypt trip on his blog. Take a look at these amazing professional photos!

Egypt Trip Conclusion – Back Home by Carli
March 18, 2008, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , ,

Author: Carli

I am back at work today, and somehow my cubicle feels smaller. There just isn’t enough sunlight coming through, and I would rather tell stories about our trip than plow through my endless email inbox. I’m also struggling with the reality that last week I saw King Tut, and this week I am vacuuming and changing diapers again. There should be some sort of detox program to take you from the dawn of civilization and touching of history, back to the real world of 30-degree rainy, Columbus weather and household chores. Plunging from one to the next is just too hard on the system.

It seems like looking back on our blog entries that we over-used the words awe-inspiring and amazing. But I’m not sure that any other words in the English language would suffice. And even those don’t seem to do justice to the profoundness of what we saw. It was a life changing experience; that’s the only way to put it. My Aunt Sandy wrote me a note that said that reading our entries every day was a bit like peeking out from our pockets to catch a glimpse of what we were experiencing. If that is the case for others as well, then our mission was successful.

Our next challenge will be plowing through the hundreds of priceless images and countless hours of video clips to piece them together into the exhibit materials and promotional elements. I can’t even fathom where we’ll start. And I’m sure we’ll laugh and cry all over again as we look back at them. I am desperately hopeful that the exhibit will give an accurate glimpse into both the science and process of archaeology and the cultural richness that we experienced. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I wish I could broadcast it to the world! So here I am trying!