Last week I told a little about our visit to the King Tut Exhibition in Atlanta, focusing mainly on the Atlanta part of the experience. I needed more time to gather my thoughts as to what to write about what we saw at the exhibition. Today I'm ready to share more about the exhibit itself, with a different focus yet. We were not permitted to take pictures in the exhibit, and so I had to do some searching to find some online that I could use in this post.
I enjoy learning about history, but I must admit that history classes or classes with a heavy emphasis on history were always among my least favorites in high school and college. I enjoyed learning about how life was, how people interacted, and about how historical events unfolded, but I simply could not get all the names and dates down and retain them for testing purposes. I guess my mind gravitated more to the social and cultural side of history.
That being said, you might imagine why I found the King Tut exhibition fascinating. To be sure, there were all kinds of names and dates for which I was thankful not to be held responsible - I even commented in front of a table of all the lineages how thankful I was not to be a professor of Egyptian history! But greater yet for me were the artifacts and the explanations of why those artifacts were there.
I was amazed to see how advanced they were, even hundreds of years B.C., although the use of B.C.E. ("Before the Common Era") was ubiquitous in the exhibit. They even had stone toilet seats! (Today's Chinese society could take some lessons from the ancient Egyptians!) Here is a picture of some of the artifacts found in King Tut's tomb:
It was interesting to see simple things like stools, tables, and chests similar to what we might have today. The styles and ornamentation were different, of course, but still some of the basic forms and functions were the same as today's. In addition to common, everyday objects, though, we saw beautiful and intricate jewelry, like this pectoral with a scarab:
Many objects from King Tut's tomb are not allowed in displays outside of Egypt, like his mummy itself. Here's a picture of it:
We saw an interesting object called the Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun. It's a miniature coffin (about 16 inches long) that was used to store Tut's liver. We saw the coffinette, but not the liver which undoubtedly had to stay in Egypt. A picture of the coffinette is on the right.
Those of you who know my wife Becka and me or who have been a reader for long know that we are cat people. (Ever wonder what the little =^..^= =^..^= is when I sign off my blog posts? It's to represent our two cats.) Something that we noticed in the Tut exhibit was how often we saw representations of members of the cat family, be it lions, panthers, or even house cats. Here's a picture of one of the chairs:
If you look closely, you will see that the feet of the chair are feline feet, something common to many pieces of his furniture. Here's a picture of a bed where the cat motif is less subtle:
Here's a picture of a statue of King Tut on the back of a panther:
From what I found online, Egyptians domesticated cats about 4,000 years ago. The first domesticated cats in Egypt were more than likely used for warding off snakes and chasing rodents. Egyptians treated cats very well, almost considering them as spiritual intermediaries. The Egyptian cat was considered a sacred animal, apparently having the run of the place. Actual mummies of cats were buried by the thousands in special cemeteries. Additionally mummified cats have been found in various Pharaohs' tombs. Here's a picture of some cat mummies:
Ancient Egyptians used bronze statues of cats in their temples to communicate with the gods. Inscriptions surviving on some of these statues reveal the different types of requests made to the gods by the person dedicating the statue, such as a long life or good health.
In the exhibit there were many statues of sphinxes. According to Wikipedia, a sphinx is a zoomorphic mythological figure which is depicted as a recumbent lion with a human head, but occasionally as a lion with the head of a falcon, hawk, or ram. Here's a picture of a sphinx statue similar to the ones we saw at the Tut exhibit:
With their great love for morphs, the ancient Egyptians would just go crazy over what we can do today with images. Here are several pictures I received recently that are morphs of members of the feline family with other animals - puts a whole new twist on "what do you get when you cross an X with an X?"
a sphinx-like panther-ape
That poor creature would have to be conflicted, knowing how much our cat Adelaide hates squirrels!
If you would like to learn more about the history of the finding of King Tut's tomb, here's a link to a site with lots of history and pictures - http://www.crystalinks.com/tutstomb.html
"Don't put your eggs in the basket of temporal kingdoms." - Dr. Drew Conley
Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.
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