dusk near Cuernavaca

dusk near Cuernavaca

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Yesterday a friend of mine from high school and I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art to see the special exhibition "Pharaoh".  Presented in collaboration with the British Museum in London, the exhibit contains 150 objects, mostly from the British Museum, but supplemented by items from our own museum's collection.  The statues, carvings and jewelry portray the ancient Egyptian monarchs, the gods with which they were associated, and the life of the royal court.

I did not take my camera with me.   Although non-flash photography is allowed in the museum's galleries, it is usually prohibited at the special exhibitions.  So I was very surprised to see many people taking pictures, mostly with their cell phones.  None of the guards objected.  I don't know if it was because the exhibit was mostly composed of stone statuary (even flash photography would not harm them), or perhaps because the British Museum also allows photography.  Anyway, before we left, my friend tried to take a picture of me standing beneath a large fragment of a sarcophagus lid.  Alas the picture came out blurry.  All I have are a few images taken from the web...

A statue of Amenemhat III dating from around 1850 B.C.
A statue of Seti II from around 1280 B.C.
An enormous fragment from the sarcophagus lid of Ramses IV from around 1140 B.C.
It hangs on the wall at the end of the exhibit, and it was this piece that my friend unsuccessfully tried to photograph.
The exhibit was excellent.  It is amazing to see the artistic skill of these people who lived more than 3000 years ago.  It was also interesting to see how they tried to expunge all record of certain pharaohs.  There is a carving in which the image of the female monarch Hatshepsut was defaced.   In another carving the face of Akhenaton, the pharaoh who tried to introduce monotheism to Egypt, was scratched away because he was considered a heretic.  During its long history Egypt was on occasion ruled by foreign invaders.  Those foreign kings, such as the Nubians and the Greek Ptolemy family, are portrayed in the traditional manner to legitimize their authority as pharaohs of Egypt.
Ptolemy I, the general of Alexander the Great who took control of Egypt after Alexander's death, is portrayed making an offering to an Egyptian goddess.  From this representation you would never know that he was Greek and not Egyptian.

The exhibit will run until June, and I recommend it to anyone who is in the Cleveland area.


  1. I love, love, love the British Museum. I always try to forget that pretty much everything in it was pilfered for the queen, but without the permission of the nations from whence the stuff came. :)

    1. In the case of their Egyptian collection, most of it was pilfered from Napoleon, who in turn pilfered it from the Egyptians.