Friday, August 1, 2008

An Evening at the Boulaq

Though the sun had set the heat of the North African summer would not give up its hold as we passed through oil lit streets to make our approach. Soon we found ourselves in the court the shadow of a colossal head of a king loomed to the right above us, before us two large sphinx's faced each other and in between the windows before them on our right in the shadows stood the crude statue of the god Amen and an Ethiopian queen found by a Mr. Berghoff in 1882 at Moroe, unfortunately Mr. Berghoff had been captured and beheaded a few months later by the Mahdi.

Upon entering its garden we are surrounded by six ancient stone sarcophagi, opposite the entrance in the middle of the garden is the tomb of its founder, the four small sphinx's facing each other in front of it are from the avenue of the serapeum. To the northwest is the Nile river the roar of its black currents reflecting an iridescent glow in the full moon. Before us stood the entrance surrounded by a pair of statues of a king, these statues being later re-inscribed for Rameses the great.

Inside the doors, we could see the light from our host's lantern and as we lit our own he unlocked the door greeting us, quickly locking it behind us again. We found ourselves in a small room with 2 stone coffins the walls of the room covered with ancient stelae. The visitor can buy the museums publications here.

Soon our lanterns brought us into the grand gallery its walls covered in stelae including the famous Piankhi stelae of the 21RST Dynasty. In the center of the room just to our right the alabaster statue of Amenirdis separated from us by a wooden rail and surrounded by various statues and shrines including the bronze lion of the pharaoh Apries of which was on our list.

Our friends whose job it was looked after this lion well and we set about in the dark for our next destination passing the stone coffin of the lady Anhk to which our host had taken rest a short while before. We ignored the west salon as among its treasures little was of interest to our evening its exception was the 25TH Dynasty stelae of the Ethiopian king Piankhi, unfortunately too large for our venture.

Our party entered the middle salon, a room filled with cases of glass and wood filled with ancient trinkets of bronze, wood, papyrus and stone of no interest to us. Along the walls coffins of various periods, the beautiful diorite statue of the pharaoh Khafre stood in the center of this gallery with the famous wood statue known as the Shiek el-Beled nearby.

However this room was of little interest to us except that along the north wall is a case we have come to see, the case contains the jewels of a queen known as Aahotep of Egypt's 17TH Dynasty along with some Greco-Roman jewels we adored them and left our men. I learned later that one of the men had seen fit to adore a blue enamel Hippopotamus from another case.

Leaving the Central salon we ignored the gallery to the west of the central salon known as the gallery of the ancient empire as its sarcophagi and stelae were of no interest to us.

We made our way to the east to the funerary gallery a room filled with coffins and glass cases filled with objects personal to the mummy, the gallery is of no interest as we make our way to the Royal mummy collection.

Entering the Royal mummies salon we found our ancient hosts hiding helplessly in their tattered wrappings to afraid to dare face our presence their massive coffins dwarfing our importance. On the north wall of this room are cases and on the bottom shelf rests the fabricated mummy of princess Sitamen, daughter of the founder of Egypt's 18TH Dynasty Ahmosis.

On the top shelf of the south wall, between the pillars are 2 wigs belonging to queen Isiemkheb and a box of wood and ivory inscribed to Hatshepsut along with mummified fruits and a fragment of the coffin of Rameses I, still yet on the cabinets fourth shelf contains the mummy found in the sarcophagus of the pyramid of the 6TH Dynasty pharaoh Merenre I. As had been requested of us our man took hold of the Hatshepsut box joining our friends back at the door.

In the center of this room stands a funerary bed with a mummy of a princess lying upon it, the bed being more than a thousand years older than the mummy. The salon filled with coffins and mummies of king's, and queen's and their associates, the well preserved unwrapped mummy of the scribe Nebseni kept us in his sight, the sentinel for the rest of the occupants here.

Soon we entered the Greco-Roman salon passing statuary of ladies and emperors we soon found the two cabinets containing objects of gold of which we had been requested. My friend grasped the eagle shaped handle of a roman sword, a gold ring and a gold statuette of Venus making his exit through the east salon back to join the others.

I made my way south to the museum's storeroom where I collected all the books of the dead that could carry filling the bag I had brought. With this, I made my exit through the Greco-Roman salon to the east salon, a room filled with numerous stone heads and stelae. Passing the grand gallery I could see my compatriots exiting the building through the way we had come.

Making our way west through the garden down the flight of steps to the museum's dock where we found our boat and made our way to Alexandria.

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