COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition


Wonder… Things that make you think by Josh
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?

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Watching Two Worlds Collide by Kate
March 10, 2008, 6:43 pm
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Author: Kate

We were happy to see Ana again today and to meet with her team. Going through the interviews and conversations with these people really brought home the interdisciplinary nature of science. Each one’s work influences the other, and the synergy that results provides new insights into our world. It was such a gift to meet with each of them, and we are so grateful. All the experiences we’ve had here have allowed us to better tell the story of Egyptian archaeology in our exhibit, but the scientist’s stories are providing such a beautiful and direct look into what science is all about. Amazing.

As a contrast to our extraordinary morning, we went shopping later today at the Khan el-Khalili market – a huge open market with hundreds of vendors lined up on street after street, selling everything: food (fresh oranges and bananas, live chickens, candy), clothing (t-shirts, belly-dancing outfits, galabyas, and thousands of scarves), gifts (wooden inlaid boxes, brass lanterns shaped like stars, incense, spices), and just about anything else you could imagine.

We bought a few brass lanterns for the exhibit, but spent most of our time just getting used to the shopkeeper’s teasing, “I miss your money!” and the sights, sounds and smells (mostly good smells, by the way – incense, cooking food, baking bread). Being there was like being in a movie – just unreal. I kept expecting a director to yell “Cut. Now, let’s get a few more donkeys in the scene, and where’s my smoke machine?!” The experience was topped off by riding back to the hotel listening to Led Zeppelin on the taxi’s radio, as we crossed the Nile River. The two worlds merge and clash in ways that are both startling and funny.



Tombs, Tombs, and more Tombs by Kate

Author: Kate

In the Valley of the Nobles today, which contains over 400 tombs of noblemen and high-ranking officials, we saw the openings to dozens of tombs cut into the golden-brown limestone cliffs. The head guardian of the tombs (translated through Ehab), told us about a man who recently fell into one of these open holes, falling 12 meters down to the bottom, because he was so busy looking around at the landscape that he forgot to look down! The guardian had to use a rope to climb down into the tomb and help carry the man back out, with a broken leg.

Within some of the many tombs is beautifully preserved artwork, showing daily life and the afterlife from the New Kingdom. The Tomb of Nakht was the first one we visited. Plexiglass covered the walls, to preserve the tomb walls from the many tourists who visit each year. A much-needed precaution, but of course it makes it difficult to film, with the glare. The walls were covered in scenes of rural life – fishing, harvesting and hunting in the Nile Delta. Nakht was a scribe and an astronomer for the Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV.

Next we visited the Tomb of Menna, which shows Menna and his wife making offerings to the gods, and the Tomb of Nebamun and Ipuki, with scenes of mourners, Osiris, and Anubis, along with others.

We ended the day at the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. She was a female pharaoh – very unusual! She secured power by convincing everyone that she had a right to rule not only because of her blood relationship to her father (the previous pharaoh), but also was divinely ordained to rule Egypt. The Birth Colonnade at the temple shows scenes of her divine birth, with the story of how her mother got pregnant from being touched on the nose.



Through the Eyes of the People by Josh
March 6, 2008, 5:23 pm
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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.



Friendships and Thumb Wrestling by Kate
March 6, 2008, 5:09 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , ,

Author: Kate

This has been one of the most amazing experiences in my entire life, and I’m certain the others feel the same. It’s a great group of people. We get tired and cranky sometimes, but overall, everyone has been such a trooper. Long days – up around 6-7am (or yesterday, 2am, to fly to Luxor!), shooting all day, skipping lunch every day just to keep filming, and then a nice dinner together where we finally relax, and practically fall asleep at the table. After the others go to sleep, Carli, Josh and I write the blog and thumb wrestle over who gets the Snickers bar in the mini-fridge.

Despite the hours, I feel so energized! I’m writing this at a desk where I can turn my head and see the Nile! How cool is that? My shoes are covered in sand from all the different places we’ve visited, and my brother Andy’s backpack is propped up at my feet, filled with permission slips, sunscreen, bottles of water, and my journal.

The partnerships we’re forming, and the way we’re telling this story, is so exciting to both us and the archaeologists. They couldn’t believe we weren’t going to ask another ‘tell us about your coolest/latest/most popular discovery” question, and were genuinely interested in telling the story of their process, their real work.

Every day we think the experience and footage can’t possibly top the day before. Well, maybe top is the wrong word. You don’t forget seeing the pyramids, obviously. But I am constantly impressed and humbled by the talent we have here to document this trip, and the incredible beauty of the visual stories we’re telling.



Nobody Wanted to Play Hide-and-Seek by Carli
March 5, 2008, 11:03 pm
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Author: Carli

I am sore, exhausted, and content. We had another incredible day which began at 2AM, and then we boarded a plane and flew to Luxor, the tourist mecca of the Nile Valley. The city of only 150,000 inhabitants is home to two amazing temples we had the privilege of visiting today.


The Luxor Temple was largely completed by the 18th Dynasty by Pharoah Amenhotep III and added to by Ramses II in the 19th Dynasty, and the Karnak Temple was built in the 11th Dynasty (around 1,000 B.C.) then renovated over and over by pharaohs wanting to make their mark on the country’s most important temple. Both complexes feature endless courts, halls, and row after row of towering columns. I wanted to run in-and-out of them, and was so tempted to challenge our crew to what would have been a fantastic game of hide-and-seek. But I had to keep it together, be professional, and do my job!

Along with breath-taking photography and video, we also were able to do a shoot with the niece and nephew of our Egyptologist guide, resulting in precious images of the 5 and 9-year-olds holding hands within the temples, and running their tiny hands along the hieroglyphics. Another successful day.