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Curio Cabinet of Very Old Things

September 4, 2006

Today I took another stop on the Egyptian tourist train: The Cairo Museum

Years ago, the Egyptian government passed antiquities legistation to keep artifacts found in Egypt in Egypt. 120,000 (Wikipedia says 138,000) seperate pieces are on display, with possibly greater numbers in storage. A number can not prepare you for the overwhelming and frustrating experience of the Museum. Entire rooms with their floor space covered by mummies, thousands of smaller relics, everywhere you look, something older than the next. There’s relics on the floor, carvings piled up next to one another. Just when you think you’ve seen in all, there’s another room, or another level. I kept on turning down tiny passageways, finding caches behind stones and statues in corners.

It’s a beautiful building, but there’s simply not enough room to store even what they have on display. You can’t take pictures (except, it seems somebody did and then posted it to the Wikimedia Commons. Oh internets), so most guests just stand there, mouths wide open. What’s most frustrating is that most things are not labeled and what is labelled has very little information. With almost no real knowledge of Ancient Egyptian history, I could only stare in wonder, knowing that something I’m directly hovering over, I’m breathing on (there’s very few glass cases as well) is thousands of thousands of years old is quite a rush.

At 20 egyptian pounds or less than 4 dollars US (student price, I got to flash my newly minted AUC card) its quite a steal in terms of admission. I’ll definately be going back, to see the two half-floors and thousands of artifacts I missed.

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