Today we were taken by our guide around the absolutely unique Egyptian Museum. It is stuffed from basement to rafters with fabulous invaluable and exquisitely beautiful antiquities from the great periods of the ancient Egyptians. Breakfast had to be executive style because we were excited to see the artefacts in this renowned collection and to study all their finest details and their creative styling and symbolic meanings, close up. I just took some slices of oranges and Christiane nibbled a bit timidly on a croissant after her regular yoghurt, and Rose took the full monty with toast and scrambled eggs. The museum is just over the bridge from the hotel so the traffic is not worth a mention, but we got there by 9.15am.
The tickets were purchased and security check-points negotiated in a trice. The headquarters of the old National Democratic Party of Mubarak & co, lying next door to the museum, were burned out during the revolution as an expression of popular revulsion with that party.
At the same time, activists gave vent to their anger over corruption in state institutions by targeting the privatised gift shop of the museum in prime position to catch the country’s premier source of foreign earnings, with subsidised rent premises, which had been making a very tidy profit for its entrepreneur owner, with nothing going to the museum. So, out of fear of possible activist action and to sweep away the allegations of corruption, the gift shop has been closed down and lies empty at present.
I took advantage of the institution’s fine and hygienic facilities on the 1st floor and found all mod cons operational, with soap in the dispenser and paper where required. This was most satisfactory; even the hand-dryer was working effectively. We started our tour of the exhibits where they were mopping a floor and I was gratified to see that they displayed a full size warning notice “Caution Slippery Floor, cleaners at work” and an appropriate stripy yellow & black zoning tape surrounding the affected area.
I found a place to perch sitting down, while the guide was describing some important things about the objects from antiquity, and I was able to take notes with my Parker biro and my A6 spiral-bound notebook on my knee.
The Germans had earphones in their right earlobe and their guide spoke into a Madonna style bendy microphone in front of her mouth. She must have had a gizmo in her rucksack which looked quite heavy. There were quite a few high school students on the floor drawing things in the glass cabinets.
The pharaohs ruled for years – 300 rulers, one after the other. Each dynasty came from a single village and passed the crown to someone else in their village. Their mummification table has a drain hole for the blood. The organs are kept in canopic jars. The kidneys are preserved for the journey because reawakening requires fluid and the heart is kept for the final judgement when it is weighed against a feather to see if it is light & good or heavy and bad. Tut was discovered in 1922 underneath another pharaoh. Pictures of all the procedures on the Day of Judgement all look very gory and scary.
I understand there is a curse of the pharaoh in The Mummy, but we don’t know it – could any kind reader supply a succinct synopsis? Please. It would help us to avoid any unfortunate repeats of history.
I thought Chris looked a bit peeky and Rosemary took the water bottle early on. The guide was describing something absolutely seminal and fundamental about the Egyptian culture, then I heard the gurgling and I looked at Chris. It wasn’t my stomach giving trouble, but one of them was seriously disturbing the peace. A party of Italians who were passing gave me funny looks and nodded to each other as though they knew a dodgy Penne Arabiata when they heard one.
The guide was reaching to point out one of the finer features of the object when Chris let out a very ugly burp which echoed around the hallway and drew more attention than we wanted. To her credit, Chris instantly apologised to everyone and assured us she was fine. Now we moved on to the historical meaning of the colours and an almighty fart exploded from our little group. There was no denying it – it started with a dry cracking sound and finished with a roll of bubbly gurgles.
By this time, Rosemary was holding her hand over her mouth and, eyes bulging dramatically, she projected a fountain of lime green puke about 3m in every direction and all over Tutankamun’s golden orb. All the onlookers were instantly fumbling for Kleenex and the custodians rang the security alarms; guards rushed in from every point of the compass and the curator called an ambulance. The fire brigade was first on the scene with water cannon from Tahrir Square. We really enjoyed the wonderful artistic items which are the highlight of any Egypt tour and the museum visit leaves us with unforgettable memories of wonderful objects that express the sophistication and refinement of a culture quite alien to our own.
Akhenaton said he didn’t want to worship Amun Ra anymore because another singular god was hidden behind the disc of the sun. His name therefore means that he was the living image of the invisible. And he promoted himself as god. For this job he had to be half male and half female. Sadly, when he died, the religion to worship him died out and they returned to the older ways.
After more than 40 years of repression, people are beginning to talk to each other and to express their opinions, but this is a difficult process and discussions can lead to volatile situation. Due to the way they have been treated for years and years, there is an enduring lack of trust in politicians and political entities. It is feared that the country could be on a path to become an Islamo fascist state? But all parties seem to feel that the transformation is going to be a long process and that it is still in its early stages.
The liberal secular reformers are concerned about the lack of ideology in the Islamic Brotherhood and their relentless opportunism. It is felt that they are very expert at manipulating the media and at saying what any given audience wants to hear. So they say different things to different audiences without scruple or any sense of obligation to be consistent in their political statements. They are also very practised in the arts of going with the flow of popular opinion, so they opposed the revolution until they could see it would inevitably succeed and then they effortlessly switched sides in a trice. These could be dangerous people to run a country.
In June a new constitution will be adopted and a president will be elected. It is expected that the Syrian regime will be driven to change before these developments can take place. Saudi & Qatar are supplying large shipments of weapons to the Free Syrian Army. It is considered almost inevitable that some kind of separate “safe zone” or buffer zone, will emerge, likely protected by US drones. It could be near Turkish border or Lebanese. Hezbollah is not the distinct power that it was until quite recently.