Egypt Essay

This essay has a total of 1755 words and 7 pages.

Egypt



Place yourself in an ancient world. On September 28th, 2000 my boyfriend and myself
attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art located in New York City, to visit an
archeological exhibit on Egyptian Art. Located in the first floor off 83rd street and
Fifth Avenue, the exhibit consists of thirty-two galleries each illustrating a time period
in Egyptian history. It is difficult to elucidate the colossal impact this exhibit
delineates. But given the chance in this essay, I will try to depict to the reader how
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has successfully designed an overall picture that reflects
the aesthetic values, history, religious beliefs, and daily life of the ancient Egyptians
over the entire course of their great civilization.

Within the walls of this vault-like exhibit area, you will find precious jewels, stone
carvings and giant tombs. While many of the precious pieces of art lie behind glass walls,
some of the most impressive stone carvings and slabs lie right in the middle of the floor,
with nothing between you but the temptation to touch. I was transported to a world long
gone, and I found myself feeling faint. The collection consists of approximately 36,000
objects dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period (ca. 300,000 BC – 4th century AD)
as seen in Gallery 1 in a time line against the wall. According to Mrs. Robins at the
information desk, the collection derived from the Museum’s thirty-five years of
archaeological work in Egypt beginning in 1906 by Mr. J. Perpont Morgan, the Museum’s
president, until his death in 1913. After his death, the museum conducted fourteen
seasons of excavations at Lisht (artifacts seen in Gallery 10- Middle Kingdom- Lisht).
Mr. Albert M. Lithgoe, a famous American Egyptologist led the early excavation teams, and
he was the first curator of the Department of Egyptian Art. As the years passed, more and
more discoveries were made like in the tomb of the early Middle Kingdom Chancellor
Meketre. In this site, an untouched chamber was discovered consisting of twenty-four
painted wooden models of “boats, gardens, offering figures, and scenes of food production”
that are more detailed than any found before or since.” Over the years, the Department
of Egyptian Art has also been able to obtain private collections through inheritance and
purchase, gifts and from individuals willing to provide funding. In addition, the staff
of the Department of Egyptian Art continues to excavate in Egypt, to conduct research for
publication, and to organize special exhibits.

Locating the beginning of the exhibit was a bit difficult. As I previously mentioned, the
exhibit consists of thirty-two galleries making it an extremely large exhibit. Some of
the galleries have sub-sections called studies. It wasn’t clear to us what this meant and
it seemed like no one in the staff really knew what “study” was. The security guards,
placed at different points throughout the museum, were not of much help. They send us to
a map on the walls that were also a little confusing. Finally we where able to locate the
beginning of the exhibit and thus commence the journey. The first thing you see is an
illustration of a temple of the Fifth Dynasty with its description. It took me a while to
discover that there were thirty-two sections and that there were in chronological order.
I was a bit off. What was this temple doing in Gallery 1 Dynasty 0? As no explanation
was given, I continued on towards Gallery 2- Dynasties 1-10. Here there where examples of
linen, frames for couches, stone plates, statues. All located behind glass walls and with
their appropriate markers explaining a little about the origin and assumption or facts
about what the piece meant. Gallery 3 to 5 depicted the eleventh Dynasty. Included here
was also a sub-section (4A) study. It is in this Gallery that we see the finest preserved
artifacts discovered in the tomb of Chancellor Meketre. I did not know this till much
later when I visited Gallery 4A where brief explanations were given for the various
artifacts throughout the gallery 4. My initial reaction was: shouldn’t this be before the
models presented in Gallery 4? Another interesting fact is that this small room is almost
invisible and not easily perceived. It is almost hidden. If it weren’t for my boyfriend
who noticed it accidentally, I would have totally dismissed it and probably never would
have discovered the importance of this section.

Upon entering Gallery 6- Amenemhat I, I noticed a brief description depicting the late
11th Dynasty to Amenemhat I located on the wall. From here thereon, this would proof to
be very helpful in putting together the pieces that didn’t fit with the brief labels put
before the item. It is also worth mentioning that at this point, I noticed that things
were placed chronologically, well at least as best as it could possibly be arranged and
that the different galleries were marked accordingly. (Later on we would encounter
confusion again. Up to this point, all was fine.) There were also descriptions of the
different excavations that took place. In Gallery 6 we see description of excavations of
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