31 January 2011

A curse

I hadn't intended to post again so soon, but this really struck a nerve today.

I first visited the Egyptian Museum in December 1999. I was studying my Masters in Egyptology and was in Egypt as part of an archaeological dig in Cairo. The very first day I arrived, I went straight to the museum. I was tired, jet lagged, and deeply overwhelmed, but I immediately loved this place. For years, I had been studying Egyptology, reading books and writing essays. But here, right in front of me, were the artifacts I had always read about and loved. The Narmer Palette, the Tutankhamen collection, the Hatshepsut statues.

So you get the idea that this is one of my favourite places in the world. There is a quiet magic in there.

When I tell people I studied to be an archaeologist, I am often asked the usual questions:

“Is it just like Indiana Jones?”
“Did aliens build the pyramids?”
“Is there a curse of the mummy?”

Sorry, but no. Archaeology is a lot less romantic than you think. The magic, for me, is in the art and the symbolism.

The curse of the mummy, at least, has some small basis in fact. Egyptian tombs had inscriptions on the outside of them saying things along the lines of, “May my tomb never be touched!” There's no shaman uttering curses, and there's no actual magic. The curse of Tutankhamen’s mummy was a media beat-up when the tomb was discovered (media sensationalism is not new!). 

Well (to finally get to my point), today I wish there was a curse.

I've been reading about the rioting in Egypt, and I'm not really in a position to comment on the political side of things. Frankly, I was always more interested in ancient Egypt than modern.

But then I started hearing that the Egyptian Museum had been looted, and artifacts destroyed. That got my attention! As it turns out, the looters got into the museum, smashed up a few artifacts, ripped the heads off two mummies, and were then caught.

I could cry!


  1. Hi there

    That is really upsetting. And what is currently happening is very upsetting - I loved Egypt when I was there a few years ago - seeing the pyramids of Giza. I hope a resolution is found soon!

    Good luck with your blog! I am having problems following blogs at the moment, but please drop by my blog and leave a comment/ follow and I will visit again soon!


    Warm wishes

  2. That is heartbreaking! Same thing happened in Iraq, so many invaluable pieces of history were lost. Such a shame!

    Thanks for the post. So amazing that you studied to be an archaeologist. That is a dream job for me! In college I took archaeology classes and was so enthralled by them! I was so, so into those classes I thought about changing my major. I dream about going to Egypt one day to see the pyramids and emerge myself in the history and symbolism!

  3. Hi~!
    found you on the etsy forums, cute blog~! I very much relate with this post as i have been to Egypt(for fun with my mom). I have always had a fascination with museums and this museum was the most breathtaking and overwhelming (in a good way). this is saddening news to hear! it is too bad people must destroy with out thinking first....i would love it if you would follow my blog and comment on one of my most recent posts:)

  4. Saying a big hello. I love you blog. You blogging is great. A very interesting read.

  5. Such a shame. I wonder what will happen there. Not a good situation to be in.

  6. That is so horrible, I just don't understand why people do this. I've always wanted to go to Egypt, one day.

  7. That's awful!I'm so annoyed and upset to hear that. I've not been following the riots either as like you, my love and interest in Egypt exists predominately in the ancient aspects, so this is the first I've heard of it. How horrible! I hope the meuseum authorities find a way to protect the rest of their artefacts from this hapenning again.

    And what were they thinking? How is destroying thousands of years old artifacts going to make their point (whatever that is)? It certainly doesn't make me sympathise with them.