First Stop: Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)
My group had the unique honor and privilege to sign up for an optional tour of the Grand Egyptian Museum. This new complex broke ground in 2002 and will open to the public in Dec 2020.it will showcase over 100,000 artifacts.
Our tour comprised a visit only to the GEM conservation center. This area is under strict security, and it took a little while to get access to the site, understandable since the conservators are trying to get a lot of work done before the grand opening.
|“Built on an approximate area of 7,000 m² the GEM Conservation Center is expected to be the largest Conservation Center in the Middle East.|
|The Conservation Center consists of five main conservation laboratories, which are the Stone Lab., The Wood Lab., The Organic Lab. (Textiles, Leather and Papyrus), The Inorganic Lab. (Ceramics, Glass and Metals) and The Human Remains Lab. There are also several Specialized Labs that are mainly used for analytical purposes and hence can be used by the Industrial force as well as archeologists and conservators. These Labs are The Scanning Electron Microscope, The Microscopes Lab, The Chemical Analysis Lab, The X-Ray Room, and a |
Photographic Studio.” http://gem.gov.eg/index/Museum%20-Conservation%20Center.htm
In the past, I was fortunate enough to go to the Museum of Fine Arts Conservation Dept in Boston, MA. The President of Amptek, Vice President, and I were giving a presentation on how the use of Amptek XRF products are GameChangers in the diagnostic testing of items from antiquity. Using non-destructive methods is truly the only way to preserve history. While there, I saw Dega’s famous “Little Dancer” statue in the conservation area. Her tutu was off and being restored. Scandalous! Lol
Anyway, back to GEM: Our group got to visit the Ceramics/Glass/Metal Lab, and the Stone Lab. We also got to peek into the Wood Lab, where they were working on King Tutunmkumun’s outer most coffin. When I was in Egypt in 2017, it was still in his tomb.
We heard from several passionate conservators how long it takes to restore just one item. For example, to restore a broad collar which is a necklace comprising thousands of faience beads they need to have a reference. The piece they desire to restore must be a match in terms of period, design, and colors. All of this research must go through committee reviews. Next, they analyze the dirt or debris on the piece to see if it is part of the original artwork. They then analyze the piece to better understand what type of cleaning solution/s they will use during the restoration process. There is a lot more involved than what I listed above, and some pieces take years to restore.
I wish I could share some pictures with you of the labs, but they forbid it. They only allowed us to take hallway and outdoor area pictures.
If you want to see the more about the Wood Lab where they are working on many of Tut’s golden artifacts, click the below link.
Second Stop: Abu Rawash
This is a place where very few tourists go.
” Abu Rawash (Abu Roash) is the site of the most northerly pyramid in Egypt (apart from a small mudbrick step pyramid in the vicinity), that of Dynasty IV king Djedefre (sometimes called Radjedef).
It is situated about 8km north-east of Giza on the west bank of the Nile, on a rocky outcrop of the desert at the edge of the cultivated area.
When the site was visited by Perring and Vyse in 1839 the pyramid was in a much better condition than it is today, but it has since been used as a quarry for stone.
It was briefly investigated by Lepsius and then Petrie, but systematic excavations were not undertaken until various times during the 20th century when it was visited in turn by Emile Chassinat, Pierre Lacau, Pierre Montet and in the 1960s by V Maragioglio and C Rinaldi.
Recent excavations by a French-Swiss archaeological team began in 1995 and are still ongoing, currently under the directorship of Michel Valloggia.
Djedefre was a son and successor of Khufu, whose Dynasty IV Giza Great Pyramid is well-known. Djedefre is known to have reigned for only around eight years and it was thought that his Abu Rawash pyramid was unfinished. However, recent studies are beginning to suggest otherwise.
Little remains today of Djedefre’s monument, probably intended to have been around the same size as that of Menkaure at Giza, other than the core of masonry built around its rocky outcrop, now rising to only 9m high. ” https://travel2egypt.org/egypt-travel-guide/giza-travel-guide/while-you-are-there/places-to-go/abu-rawash-pyramid-of-djedefre/
Third Stop: Abu Sir with a lecture by Dr. Mohamed Megahed
Another site all to ourselves.
“Necropolis dating from the 5th Dynasty, forming part of the extensive necropolis of Memphis. Abu Sir is situated between Giza and Saqqara. The pyramid complexes of Sahure, Neferirkare, Nyuserre, Neferefre (Raneferef), and another as yet unidentified ruler of the 5th Dynasty (possibly Shepseskare) are located here. Further, there are a few tombs belonging to members of the court, including the pyramid complex of Queen Khentkaues, the mother of Sahure and Neferirkare, and the mastaba of the vizier Ptahshepses, a relative of Nyuserre. There are also some shaft tombs dating from the 30th Dynasty. Of the pyramids, that belonging to Sahure, with its valley temple, mortuary temple, and processional way, is the best-preserved. ” Excerpt is taken from the Global Egyptian Museum website.
Last Stop: Oriental Carpet School
The kids are incredible! Their hands move so fast through the air maybe they can make a flying magic carpet.