COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition


Sarah and the Satellites by COSI
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?



Sharing My Heart… by Kate
March 11, 2008, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Author: Kate

It was wonderful to finally meet Salima, who has been one of our project advisors for the past couple of years. I’ve had phone conferences and email exchanges with her, but those don’t quite capture her energy and humor. She was very patient with us – we were exhausted today.

In my attempt to be efficient, I only scheduled 1 hour for us to film in the Egyptian Museum (a major miscalculation!), so we spent time almost running from room to room and still only saw a small portion of the objects there. There were wonderful papyrus scrolls on display, along with lots of ostraka, which are pieces of pottery, stones, etc. on which the ancient Egyptian wrote notes, receipts, and other information (kind of an early version on Post-Its).

A couple of days ago at the Visitor Center for the Valley of the Kings, we watched footage of Howard Carter and his team taking the objects out of King Tut’s tomb, including the famous “cow bed.” Today, we saw the real thing. A solid gold bed. The beads and jewelry were incredible – intricate collars and necklaces in gold, the deep blue of lapis lazuli, orange carnelian, and other stones. My sister Lisa, who does beadwork, would love these.

We walked through rooms of stone statues 20-30 feet tall, and the sheer number of objects we saw overwhelmed us. It really brought home the concept of how much the ancient Egyptians took with them to the afterlife, and the amazing artistry that went into the creation of all these items.

I’ll miss Egypt. It’s been an amazing experience being here – one I’ll always remember. Brad and I looked back through his photos at the many faces and places we’ve seen. Will I remember it all? Not just the sights and sounds, tombs and pyramids, but the feelings? What it was like to see Sekhmet in the darkness, drink tea with the tomb guards, talk to the archaeologists who I’ve only read about in books, or share my heart with this astounding place.



Goodbye from Egypt! by Carli
March 11, 2008, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Author: Carli

Today began with an interview with esteemed animal mummy specialist, Salima Ikram, and ended with a journey through the Cairo Museum, a building of priceless treasures which, like everything else we have seen, is hard to describe with words. Room after room of immeasurable riches were a fingertip away.

I found myself standing face-to-face with the mask of King Tut. We stood in a room of mummies including Tuthmosis and Ramses II. We saw the mummy of an 18-foot alligator. We wandered through corridors of towering statues, sarcophagi, and cases of amulets, jewelry, and art. Our guide said there were over 150,000 pieces on display and hundreds of thousands more in the basement and other storage areas.

We fly home tomorrow, and part of me can’t believe the trip is coming to an end, and another part of me feels like we’ve been here for a month based on the amount of experiences we’ve had, and wonders we’ve seen. I should write a more profound and reflective ending, but I’m so tired that I’m having a hard time keeping from falling asleep on the key board. I’ll save a finale for when my brain waves return. Goodbye from Egypt!



Thank You… to Everyone by Josh
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.



Flying High – Literally and Mentally by Carli

Author: Carli

We’ve been averaging about 5-to-6 hours of sleep per night, and working about 17-hour days. I can barely keep my eyes open, but the incredible adventures continue every day, and I don’t want to miss a single moment. Yesterday, I got on a hot air balloon at 6AM and floated amongst 30 other balloons, watching the sun rise over the Nile, and taking photographs of the sugarcane fields and the Valley of the Kings below. We hopped an evening flight back from Luxor to Cairo, arriving around 2AM to the hotel, and slept until about 5:30AM this morning. We then headed back out to interview team members from the Giza Plateau Project.

My triumphant moment of the day – interviewing Mark Lehner, living legend of the discipline of Egyptology, esteemed archaeologist, and foremost expert on the pyramids. During the interview, we talked about the Giza Mapping Project, his discovery of the Lost City, the interfacing of different archaeological disciplines to complete pictures of ancient daily life, the importance and relevance of studying ancient Egyptian history, and scientific method involved in the process of archaeology.

The final line of questioning relating to scientific method and the proving or disproving of hypotheses brought me to tears. He essentially outlined the entire educational function of the Lost Egypt exhibit in a way that combined science, fantasy, discovery, curiosity, and the desire to seek out truth.

I couldn’t help but picture children at COSI standing in front of a kiosk station listening to Dr. Lehner speak and becoming inspired to take a similar career path. The impact of the project and the interview itself overwhelmed me. I am so proud of the work we have done here, and the product that will result from our efforts.



Photo Panoramic Views of Giza and Cairo by COSI
March 5, 2008, 9:07 am
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here are some images that have multiple photos stitched together to give you a panoramic view of what we’re experiencing. It’s pretty amazing:

Giza Pyramids and Cairo View from Mountain

View from the Giza Plateau

Night View of the Sphinx and Giza from the Ground



Egypt Fun Facts We’ve Learned So Far… by Carli
March 3, 2008, 6:51 am
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Author: Carli

I want to share some fun facts that we’ve learned along the way.
In no particular order:

  • The population of Cairo is 18 million during the day, and 16 million at night (2 million commute into the city to work).
  • 90% of Egypt is desert; 5% residential; 5% farmland
  • Cairo is 1000 years old
  • Islam was introduced to Egypt in 641 AD
  • 90% of the country is Sunni Muslim
  • Eucalyptus trees grow everywhere due to the similar climate to Australia
  • Egyptian schools give students a grade based on a percentage of all subjects rather than an A, B, C, style system.
  • Salaries increased based on multi-lingual abilities specifically English, French, and German
  • The Nile runs north!
  • The Sphinx faces east toward the sunrise.
  • The Sphinx was cut from a single piece of limestone.

Amazing 5,000 Year Old Pottery