A Continuing Fascination with Ancient Egypt

As a little girl one of my favorite topics to read about was Ancient Egypt.

The building of the pyramids, the Pharaohs’  tombs deep under the sands in the Valley of the Kings, the of the passageways under the Sphinx, always intrigued me and I couldn’t read enough!

But, one cannot talk about ancient Egypt without mentioning the most well know Pharaoh, King Tutankhamun.

File:Tutmask.jpgHe was a favorite of mine, at the time, mostly due to the fact that his tomb was one of only a few that were found with the seal intact and only nominally pilfered by tomb robbers. I used to check out this glossy covered book from the downtown library that must have been 3 inches thick, filled with photographs of the riches that Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered deep underground in the forgotten tomb.

As an adult I still am intrigued by this young’s King’s story. When I had cable I always stopped what I was doing to watch the latest and greatest documentary about King Tut on the History channel. But, what’s most interesting, to me, is that after all this time there are still so many mysteries surrounding the boy king.

We know know that the pyramids were not built by slaves, but by paid laborers.  We know that they were white washed and topped with gold so they gleamed in the desert sun, visible for miles. We know that the passageways under the Sphinx do not lead to the missing tomb of File:GD-EG-Caire-Musée061.JPGAkhenaten, Tut’s father and radicalist who changed the polytheism religious structure of Egypt to a monotheism worshipping only the sun God Ra, but since this was my childish idea to believe  I would have argued with you until I was exhausted.

We know all these things and more, but no one is certain of how King Tutankhamun died. There are many hypotheses: a chariot accident, a broken leg that got infected, bashed over the head by a jealous rival, metabolic disorder, congenital heart defect, no one knows!! And, to muddy the water even more, scientists have just recently discovered that at some point after King Tut dies his mummy caught fire! 3000 years later and the world is still captivated by this extremely marginal and short lived pharaoh all because his tomb and its riches were found mostly intact.

I was lucky enough to catch the touring King Tut Exhibition at the  Field Museum in Chicago a few years back. I was so overwhelmed with emotion to come face to face with some of the riches I had spent so many nights looking at in photographs by flashlight way passed my bedtime. I literally cried when I saw my favorite ivory canopic jar on display.

Isn’t it gorgeous? And, to this day my favorite semi precious stone is Lapis Lazuli (the blue stone making up the scarab beetle’s body).

Lady Catherine

This post was inspired by Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon. Learn more about the family who lived in Highclere Castle, where the popular British series Downton Abbey is filmed.

Join From Left to Write on December 17 we discuss  Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey.

As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


5 thoughts on “A Continuing Fascination with Ancient Egypt

  1. I was fortunate to see this exhibit in Chicago as well, probably in 1976 or ’77. A lifelong friend was a grad student at the University of Chicago and we were able to get tickets using her student ID. It certainly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the gold mask and all of the other precious artifacts and needing to remind ourselves that this king was just around 16 years old! Having spent some time in Boston, I hope you had a chance to see the Egyption collection at the MFA which is much acclaimed.

    • I saw the more recent tour – in 2006 – and it was amazing, although Ia told there were many more artifacts in the touring collection in the 70s. I did see the Egyptian collection at the MFA in Boston several times. I worked almost across the street for a year and went there frequently with my NEU ID. I would sit on one of the benches in the exhibit and just enjoy everything.

  2. I was totally enamored by this topic in middle school. Thinking that far back in history is so surreal and seeing all the objects makes it tangible but I still cannot wrap my head around how *old* these artifacts are!

  3. Pingback: Book Club Day: Lady Catherine, the Earl and the Real Downton Abbey

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