Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Amarna Exhibit in Berlin

I still have more photos to post from my recent vacation, but before I do I want to mention an exhibit in Berlin that is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the finding of the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti.

Numerous works dating to the Amarna Period are on display as well as Ludwig Brochardt's excavation diaries. And the exhibit is in a museum that already contains one of the best collections of ancient Egyptian art in the world.

If I had been aware of this exhibit sooner, I might have re-thought the vacation plans a bit.....

Here are some links with information on the exhibit:

And here is a link that is not specifically about this exhibit, but it is worth checking out:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Egyptian Obelisk in Paris

     My first stop in Paris was the Place de la Concorde, which forms the eastern end of the famous street Champs Elysees. An obelisk of Ramesses II dominates this square.

     Obelisks represented the benben, or sacred stone of the sun god at Heliopolis. They were erected at temple entranceways by numerous pharaohs, including Tuthmose III, Hatshepsut and Ramesses II. Obelisks were carved from one huge block of granite and floated downstream to wherever they were to be erected. A carving in the temple of Hatshepsut at Dier el-Bahri shows how the ancient Egyptians did this.

     A number of Egyptian obelisks have been moved from Egypt to other countries. Augustus Caesar began this by moving a couple of obelisks from Egypt to Rome. Obelisks so fascinated the Romans that Pliny devoted a full chapter of his book Natural History to them.

     Ramesses II erected two obelisks in front of the entrance of the Luxor temple. The obelisk now in the Place de la Concorde in Paris is one of these two. It was brought to Paris in December of 1833. On October 25, 1836, King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the center of the Place de la Concorde.

The first photo, which I took a couple of days ago, shows the obelisk as it now stands in Paris. The second photo is a picture I took back in the 1980's of the first pylon of the Luxor temple. You can see one of Ramesses' obelisks still in place, with an empty base in the foreground where the obelisk in Paris once stood.

All photos copyright 2012 by John Freed

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back from Vacation

I got back from Paris and Vienna yesterday afternoon, so it is time to start sharing some of what I saw.

First, the Egyptian collection at the Louvre has been completely re-installed since I last saw it. The display cases are much more modern and the whole collection is much more attractively displayed. I have photos that I will start posting in a day or so.

Unfortunately I had to rush through the Louvre's Mesopotamian collection and my photos came out bad. I will see if I can use iPhoto to salvage any of them. If so, I will post them as well.

The Paris Exposition Center also had a special exhibit that is worth mentioning. It is called "Tutankhamun, his Tomb and His Treasures" and is running through early September. The exhibit is a display of reproductions of many of the objects from the tomb, including life-size displays of each chamber of the tomb with all of the objects it contained located exactly where they where when Howard Carter opened the tomb. The reproductions are quite good and I would recommend you see the exhibit if you can.

In Vienna I went to see the Egyptian collection in the Kunsthistorishes Museum ( The collection of Egyptian Art is quite good and well worth seeing, but the display is old and dark. It is hard to see because it is dark. Photography is difficult because it is dark. Have I mentioned that the museum is dark?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Visiting the Louvre

I have not had much to post about recently, but that should change soon as I am off to Paris and Vienna for a little rest and relaxation. A visit to the Louvre is on my list of things to do.

I will try to get photos and information to post on some of the most famous objects in the museum, such as the Gebel el Arak knife (Predynastic), the head of Djedefre (Old Kingdom), the Old Kingdom "Seated Scribe",  the bust of an Amarna Princess and the sarcophagus of Ramesses III. I will also be looking at the Second Intermediate Period art in the Louvre's collection.

The Louvre also has a good collection of Mesopotamian art, including reliefs from Khorsabad (reign of Sargon II) and the Ashurbanipal Prism, and I am looking forward to seeing this collection for the first time.

I am not aware of any collections of Near Eastern art in Vienna. If anyone knows of a collection that is worth seeing, please send me an email and I will try to get some photos and other information.