Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New exhibit focuses on cultural relations between Egypt and France

Al-Ahram Weekly : "Twenty-five granite and limestone statues -- just a few of the 779 objects discovered by George Legrain in 1904 in the Hypostyle Hall of the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak -- lie in an atmosphere of divinity and serenity in a new exhibit debuting at the Egyptian Museum. Black and white photographic illustrations show workmen in action during the 1904 excavations; removing limestone blocks, brushing the sand off a statue which is half-buried in sand; or pulling a thick rope with a huge granite object attached. A portrait of Legrain along with a short biography flashes on one wall.

Among the most significant items on display are a fine limestone statue of Psammetik I, founder of the 26th dynasty, in the shape of a sphinx; a dark gray diorite statue of Shapenoupet II, daughter of the 25th- dynasty Pharaoh Piankhi, in the shape of a female sphinx holding a bust of a bull; a white limestone statuette of Amun's musician Taheret with curly hair; and a yellow quartzite statue of the high priest of Memphis, Khaemouset, son of Ramses II.

Egyptian Museum director Wafaa El- Saddiq told the Weekly that some of the objects illuminated an important Egyptian religious tradition of "the Divine Wives of Amun", or royal princesses who gave their lives to serve the god. "This is similar to Coptic monotheism," El-Saddiq said.

In the second half of the exhibition are displayed some of Champollion's personal objects, which in their own way illustrate his long path to breaking the mystery code of hieroglyphics."