Saturday, May 6, 2006


I went to see the Hatshepsut show at the Met for the second time. It took two trips to really sink in.

Since ancient Egyptian artifacts are so beautifully designed, well crafted and preserved it is much much too easy to forget how ancient they are. Also, they seem quite abundant, especially at the Met, so admittedly I was fighting being de-sensitized. But once I tried to grasp it, it was almost too much to hold.

I realize that the artifacts that we see in the museum are hand picked by curators etc, but I cant believe a society that lived over 3000 years ago was so concerned with design. I suppose that it was their way of being closer to the gods and honoring rulers, like Hatshepsut, to make such exquisite offerings. But they were so flamboyant in a way.

You would think it would be enough to learn to farm, live off of the land, build a belief system and writing system and just soak up the rays of the Egyptian sun and live. But no, there must have been artisans everywhere, everyone must have been a craftsperson of some sort. Even the tools are exquisite. It just amazes me what people found important, what they spent their precious energy on.

Also, it is such a staple of our education to learn about ancient Egypt, but isnt it so interesting to think that they didnt know that their society would be scrutinized and admired 3000 years in the future. As Joe pointed out, can you imagine if the carpenter who built the ivory and wood chair knew that it would last as long as it did and be on display in a museum, he or she would be proud, maybe they are rolling over in their sarcophagus as I write.

I think that the problem with understanding and appreciating ancient Egypt is a problem with time. I think it is almost impossible for us to grasp the amount of time that has passed since 1479 B.C. I have found people always have trouble with one year passing, i.e. "can you believe it has been a year already".

So, it is hard to understand 3000 years as a concept, apart from the society that flourished then. But then when you throw in a gold and turquoise necklace I would be proud to wear today, sculptures that look like they were carved with lasers a week ago, scarabs so tiny and detailed and a civilization cool enough to have a woman as king and my mind is just absolutely blown to bits.


  1. Ancient Egypt was one of a handfull of civilizations that had that special spark. A creative energy and skill that sets them apart. People have been marveling for thousands of years.