Customer Story: The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities – The Eyes of the Boy-King
Allison Carter, an Atlas Travel® Insurance customer, recently fulfilled a long-time desire to visit Egypt. This blog post, the second in a series, details her experience in her own words. You can also find more of her story in the HCCMIS Blog. If you have traveled abroad with coverage from one of our products, and want to share your stories, we encourage you to leave a comment.
We made it. After decades of wishing and hoping and planning, we were there, making our way through Egypt on a two-week package tour with fourteen other Americans and one wonderful guide, Tarek. We spent a perfunctory night at an airport hotel before the trip really began, and we headed for downtown Cairo.
We arrived at the famed Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. It’s a giant heap of a building painted in bright coral. Directly behind it sits a burned-out husk: the former ruling party headquarters. It was set ablaze during the recent revolution, and humankind came within just a few hundred yards of losing some of our greatest treasures, a chilling possibility.
The museum was built in 1902, and hasn’t changed much since then. Every room is crammed full of masterworks that would be the centerpiece of any foreign museum’s collection, but here just blend into the background. Labeling is intermittent at best, and the lack of air conditioning makes the whole place stifling.
However, none of this matters. One amazing piece reveals itself after the other in this glorious mess: A statue of King Zoser made extraordinary by a beautiful hawk sheltering the king in its wings, protecting him. This piece would have sat against a wall, meaning no one would have even seen the hawk, a hidden jewel. We passed wooden statues that watched us with eerily lifelike eyes and jewelry that would not look at all out of place on today’s runways.
We made our way up to the main attraction, the treasures of King Tutankhamen. They take up their own wing, an endless parade of chairs, statues, beds, bows, and chariots, each a masterpiece created for an insignificant boy-king. But one stands above all others: the mask.
We slipped into the room holding the pharaoh’s most precious treasures, and my mother and I found ourselves standing alone, gazing into the eyes of Tutankhamen. His funerary mask is far more beautiful than pictures show: every detail finely wrought, from the high cheek bones and full lips to the delicate lines of his headdress and the piercings in his ear, all polished to the highest sheen.
Unlike say, the Mona Lisa, which in the Louvre looks like a postcard slapped to a wall blocked by screaming tourists, the mask of King Tut lives up to the hype. Go see it.
That evening, we boarded a plane and flew to Aswan, in southern Egypt. We were headed for Nubia, the land of gold.
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