Thursday, September 6, 2018

ARCE NY Opens its 2018 - 2019 Lecture Season

     The New York chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt will have its first lecture of the new academic year on Tuesday, September 11, at 6:00 in the evening. The speaker is Dr. Tara Prakash of the Metropolitan Museum of Art who will give lecture entitled "Despicable Kings and Debased Rivals: The Enemies of Ramesses II in the Battle of Kadesh Reliefs".

     The lecture is free and open to the public. If you would like to attend, please send an email to ARCE NY at info@arceny.com so that we can add you to the list that building security uses (if you are not on their list, they will not admit you to the building). The lecture will take place at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, 7 Times Square, NY, NY. 23rd floor (the building entrance is on Broadway at 42nd St. between The Loft and The Counter. After going through security proceed to the 5th floor and transfer for an elevator to the 23rd floor.

     Also, check our website at www.arceny.com for the date and time of future lectures.





   






Monday, September 3, 2018

Brazil Museum Gutted by Fire

     The National Museum in Rio de Janeiro had a major fire on Sunday evening. The museum reportedly houses more than 20 million artifacts from around the world, including 700 from ancient Egypt. The  full extent of the damage is not yet known.

     The sarcophagus of the singer Shaamunensu was one of the more important artifacts in the museum. It was presented as a gift by the Khedive of Egypt Ismail Pasha and has never been opened. The museum also has some ushabti's from the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Sarcophagus of Seti I

     I just finished reading a new book describing the sarcophagus of the Egyptian Pharaoh Seti I. The sarcophagus is an extremely beautiful object. I saw it a number of years ago and was very pleased to see this book published.

     This slim volume (96 pages) is filled with with plenty of photographs and a succinct and well written description of Seti's sarcophagus, how it was discovered and how it got to Sir John Soane's home. The majority of the book is dedicated to a description of the illustrations of the ancient Egyptian "Book of Gates" that are carved on the exterior and interior of the sarcophagus. This religious text describes the journey of the sun god Ra through the underground caverns he must cross during the night to be reborn in the eastern sky at dawn. The author, John H. Taylor, has described the carvings in detail and explained the meaning of the text in sufficient detail to enlighten those of us who are interested in Egyptian funerary writings (the "Book of the Dead", the "Book of Gates", etc.) without doing a full translation of the somewhat obscure texts themselves.


     To me, this book was absolutely fascinating and a great addition to my library, but some readers may find the description of the inscriptions to be a bit more detail than they need.

(Sorry about the white background, I am not sure why this is happening........)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Luxor in Las Vegas (Part 2)

Fig. 1 - Entranceway to the Casino
     While the outside of the Luxor hotel / Casino in Las Vegas is big and splashy, the Egyptianizing fun continues inside as well.

Fig. 2 - the heart of the deceased being weighed to see if he is free of sin
     First you enter the hotel past a statue of a Pharaoh and a couple of Egyptianizing columns (see fig. 1) as well as a copy of the scene of the heart of the deceased being weighed before Osiris (see fig. 2). I could make all sorts of comments about having your heart weighed to see if it is heavy with sin before you enter a casino (or will it be weighed when you leave the casino??), but I will refrain.

Fig. 3 - the entrance pylon that is inside the hotel
     Now you find yourself in the main lobby. There you are greeted by what looks like a copy (sort of) of the entrance pylon of an ancient temple. Statues of the king flank either side of the entrance to the casino (you can see the slot machines in the distance through the "pylon's" entrance). Also, if you look at the foot area of the statue on the right, you can see a ram-headed sphinx that looks very much like it comes from the avenue of sphinxes that connected the Karnak and Luxor temples in early times.

Fig. 4 - an obelisk with hieroglyphs that light up
Fig. 5 - a "Middle Kingdom" Sphinx
     Upstairs, where the shows and shops are located, there is still more  Egyptomania fun with an obelisk that has hieroglyphs that light up (the hieroglyphs do not really say anything, but in Las Vegas that is not really important, right?). One can only wonder what Ramesses II would have done with something like this. There is also another sphinx there that resembles the famous one from the Middle Kingdom that is now in the Louvre in Paris. My wife sat by the paws of the sphinx while I toured the nearby exhibit of artifacts brought up from the Titanic.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Luxor (in Las Vegas)

Fig. 1 - the Luxor Obelisk in Las Vegas
     OK, let's get silly for a few minutes. I recently did a trip to Las Vegas and I stopped by the Luxor Hotel to get some photos of the "Egyptianizing" decor of the place.

Fig. 2 - the Great Sphinx of Las Vegas
     The front of the hotel / casino features a giant sphinx and obelisk, while the building itself is shaped lime a giant black pyramid. The front of the building has a temple-like front where taxi cabs can drop off and pick up passengers. The walls of this "temple" are decorated with numerous, well carved, but totally meaningless "inscriptions" (see figure 3).
Fig. 3 - "inscriptions" on the exterior of the Luxor "Temple"
     On a previous trip to Vegas (many years ago) the hotel had an exhibit that was something like a reproduction of Tutankhamen's tomb. Not a real reproduction mind you, just something that looked like a small scale mock up of the tomb. This is gone now, replaced by places that can sell you something.

In the next post we can take a look inside the hotel at some of the Egyptianizing decor that can be seen there.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Drinking from a Sarcophagus???

     Occasionally Egyptologists get to deal with some truly unusual ideas and the people who propose them. Some people believe that the pyramids were built by aliens while others believe that there is a curse of the Pharaohs that will strike down anyone who violates a royal tomb.

     The latest example of this sort of thing just might be the craziest I have ever heard of. Last week a large black sarcophagus was found and opened in Alexandria. Inside was a mix of skeletons and a vile smelling red water. A crack in the sarcophagus had apparently allowed water to seep in.

     Now someone has started a petition to have the antiquities service permit the drinking of "...the red liquid from the cursed dark sarcophagus in the form of some sort of carbonated energy drink so we can assume its powers and die." Wow! Mixing an ancient curse with a carbonated energy drink. This idea is truly unique!

     Now it would be easy to dismiss this petition as the ravings of a lone loon, but apparently over 17,000 people have signed the petition! Seriously, 17,000 people want to drink this stuff in the form of a carbonated energy drink that will kill them?

     And I thought the ideas I hear at work were crazy!!!!!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Assassin's Creed Origins

     At the annual ARCE meeting a video game called "Assassin's Creed: Origins" was brought to my attention by a speaker (Christian Casey) who suggested that it be used to engage youngsters in ancient history, especially ancient Egyptian history.

     I took a look at the game through the magic of YouTube.com, which has numerous video clips showing off the stunning graphics in this game. Take a look at them and see what I mean.

     But the larger question here is can games be used to engage kids in "school work" like history? My own personal experience would suggest that the answer to this question is yes. Back in about 1982 I became an early adopter of a new product called a PC. At first I bought it to do for processing, rather than driving myself nuts with a typewriter. During summer break, I played a few games (very primitive ones compared to Assassin's Creed) and got interested in learning how the games were actually created. This led me to becoming a programmer and having a much better career than I otherwise might have. Playing video games did indeed have a significant, positive, impact on my education and life.

     So if anyone has any thoughts on all of this, please do comment on this post as I am really interested in what others may think about this idea.