Having paid quite handsomely for the tickets, we then read some reviews that were less than glowing! I thought it was fantastic and fascinating. There’s a photo essay at the Time website which will give an impression of the exhibits.
I was intrigued by the extraordinary lengths that the Pharoahs went to model this life in the next. Apart from the elaborate coffins and containers for mummified organs, they also included models of fruit and everyday household articles (jugs, bowls etc). They also (in a similar way to the Chinese emperor) provided servants for the afterlife. The Egyptian shabti could perform any required work in the afterlife.
In ancient Egypt the Pharoah was seen as an intermediary between man and the gods in his earthly life, who was destined for divinity after death. I didn’t know (or had forgotten that King Tut’s dad had reformed their polytheistic religion, and introduced worship of one god. These reforms were reversed by King Tut.
The hieroglyph that means ‘life’ is called ‘ankh’ – spot it in the middle of King Tut’s name! The cross as life – interesting?
Also, the symbols of power that the pharaoh carried (equivalent to the orb and sceptre of our monarchs) were a flail and a shepherd’s crook. Seems to be some resonance here too.
This week I’ve been reading some of the passages from Exodus about the priestly garments and paraphernalia – there are some parallels in terms of the intricate detail of the breastpiece etc., although I’m not sure what conclusions to reach – if any – about this.
Of course, I couldn’t ignore the incredible injustice that must have existed in ancient Egypt – with so much wealth and activity consumed by the preparations for the Pharoah’s eternal well-being. Forced labour, exploitation and greed aren’t a new phenomenon – nor are they only in the past!
Any negatives about the exhibition? Well, there were no queues thanks to timed tickets, the exhibition wasn’t too crowded after the first room or so as we managed to spread out. There was an exquisite beauty about many of the exhibits. However, inevitably the exhibition concluded by forcing you into the shop. Filled with overpriced King Tut tat, it was a disappointing end to a well presented, intriguing and (for me) thought-provoking event.