Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Dusty and Disorganized—The Old Egyptian Museum in Cairo, A Priceless Treasure!

S.R. Karfelt, travel, Egypt, Cairo, Study Tour, The Glitter Globe, Blog, Article, news
Egyptian Museum Cairo

Treasure of the ages awaits you at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The building housing that treasure is nearly as wonderful as its dusty contents. Arched windows stand open to let in the breeze, floor fans blow warm air, grimy skylights slant desert sun over artifacts. Sometimes bits of paper typed in English and Arabic tell you what you're looking at—they appear to have been typed around WWII. 

Imagine you had an Great Aunt who'd been an archaeologist around the 1920's. She lives in an old Art Deco mansion in Egypt. You get to roam her house and look through a lifetime of artifacts. She never dusts. This museum is like that only it contains the treasures of the centuries. More than your ancient aunt could have collected. 

At the outside entrance to the museum you'll pay for your ticket (pay extra for the pass to take photographs) and you'll go through security. You'll go through security again upon entering the building. That's just how it is in Egypt. I was relieved to have been allowed to keep my water bottle. It's dry and as I've mentioned repeatedly dusty. Am I emphasizing the dust? Can you taste it yet? You will. 

Don't for one minute think I'm criticizing. This was my idea of heaven. 

This Cairo Museum is spectacular!

Scribes like me

My first visit here I had the opportunity to see the exhibits with an Egyptologist. When there was no note card explaining what I was looking at, she did. When the cards were incorrect, she knew. Because I'm a writer, she kindly pointed out and explained a scribe's place in Egypt and I thrilled at all the various depictions of those Egyptian writers. I memorized the word scribe when referred to in hieroglyphs. 

Scribe in Hieroglyphs (above the bird,
the dongle traffic light thingy, the Egyptologists would be so proud
of me getting all technical here. I can feel them cringing.). 

This is like no museum I've ever seen, and I loved it.

 Antique cabinets house row after row of sarcophagus's and coffins, canopic jars (they're the ones holding mummy guts), there are wooden statues over 4,500 years old—the pharaohs did try to take it with them, including entire armies of warriors to protect them on the other side. 

There are jewels, scarab beetles, masks, chairs, sandals, mummies (they cost extra to see), paintings, reliefs, hieroglyphs, soul houses, beads, papyrus scrolls, enormous statues, tiny statues, mummified food (because what about when the dearly departed get hungry), mummified animals, am I getting too random? Get used to it, because that's how it is here. Everything you can imagine from Ancient Egypt, and quite a bit you can't—it's all there, displayed in dim corridors or brightly lit balconies, side rooms, and at the top or bottom of stairwells. 


Upon leaving my head felt heavy with the information it tried to store. On my next visit to the museum I didn't get the camera pass. I looked slowly and quietly and gathered data my way—as slowly and randomly as it must have been putting together this collection. 

My trip to Egypt was with a study tour, to gather information for a book I'm writing, but also to gather information for insertion into who knows what when the muse strikes, like this blog now. 

Details you might want to know when you go: the restroom/toilets/WC is to the right of the entrance. Go up the stairs, it's on the first landing. Have tip money. Please carry tip money in Egypt. Some people are paid entirely in tips, keep that in mind. A US dollar is worth seventeen Egyptian pounds. There's almost always someone working restrooms in Egypt, providing toilet paper and soap at the sinks. There is a gift shop, but it appears to consist mostly of various vendors selling their wares. There are some nice things. Negotiate.

Outside the museum there is a spot where you can get a drink. You might want to bring something for your lunch. I almost always picked up fruit and carried a cheese sandwich for mine. Carry water. You can go in and out of the museum building, but keep your tickets! I doubt you can leave the grounds and come back. Check if you want to.

S.R. Karfelt, well-dusted by Egypt
If you're crossing the road anywhere around the's brutally dangerous. Buses drop you off by the entrance so you don't have to do that. If I had to I'd find a local to help. I've found Egyptians to be friendly and kind. 

Getting to the Cairo Museum is part of the adventure. Cairo traffic has to be experienced to be believed. I have no words to describe it. They are building a new museum closer to the pyramids of Giza. It looks to be in the early stages and I wouldn't expect it to be finished anytime soon. But, again, inshallah—God Willing. Personally, I don't know why they'd change a single thing. It's perfect as is, dust and all. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it brought it back to me. But on your second visit, you actually walked with me and we were having great fun thinking of nonsensical alternative explanations of what we saw. Remember?