Today, Mr. Mousie and I went to an amazing AMAZING exhibit, 'Tutankhamen and the World of Pharaohs.' It was completely worth over two hours drive each way.
The exhibit consisted of actual objects from Tutankhamen's tomb as well objects from the tombs of his relatives and WOW.
There were so many exquisite things, things I could stare at for ages, but some stick in the mind the most:
The sarcophagus for Akhnaten's grandmother: inlaid, gleaming, perfect, exquisite. Carved chest that looks like it would open 3500 years after it was made (I cannot even imagine such a distance of time), a trumpet, fragile and gorgeous. Tutankhamen's crown, the one he actually wore in life: a graceful thing of curves and jewels.
But the things that stuck with me somehow the most were the small personal touches, that made it all real: the small chair that child Tutankhamen used (as he ascended the throne when he was 9), the game board for a variety of games, so he won't be bored in afterlife (it just made me imagine someone whiling away evenings playing games with others) and most of all, a container for a small statue. The statue itself is gone, but the container, made of gold, has detailed reliefs on it, all depicting Tutankhamen and his wife Ankhesenamen. They are depicted doing some regular or ritual things: in one he is hunting as she is sitting, in another she is pouring wine, but in two of them they are holding hands. And in another, they are grasping each other's arms.
For some reason, that really got me. I have no idea if they loved each other or not (as it was a state marriage) but for some reason it made me feel for them as real flesh-and-blood people, a 19 year old boy and a 21 year old girl, more than anything else could.
19 is a stupid age to die, even if Tutankhamen clearly had a better life than most anyone else in Ancient Egypt. Yeah, I am maudlin.
Of course, this reawakened my dormant Ancient Egypt obsession. I am trying to remember (so far to no avail) the name of the novel I read in high school which was about Ankhesenamen. No idea and it's driving me crazy.
Actually, I think I can blame Ankhesenamen for my interest in AE. I remember reading some random book as a child and it mentioned a letter written by her to the Hittite king after the death of her husband, when she was alone and afraid. It really struck me:"My husband has died and I have no son. They say about you that you have many sons. You might give me one of your sons to become my husband. I would not wish to take one of my subjects as a husband... I am afraid."
The son the Hittite King sent after dithering which arguably cost him Egypt, was significantly murdered en route. No one knows what became of Akhesenamen.
And that brings meto something semi-random. Red River
A.k.a. I just discovered a manga set IN THE KINGOM OF THE HITTITES!!!! Oh My God. Where has it been all my life? tatterpunk
mentioned it to me some time back, and I thought 'Hittites, OK' and moved on. But the heroine of it, the one who gets transported back in time, gets transported during this time! In fact the ruling king is the one to whom Ankhesenamen addressed the letter! She falls in love with a historical person, one of his sons! And one of the characters is the son the King sent to Ankhesenamen! I am getting all the volumes TOMORROW. OMG.
I have also remembered my love for Ann Moray's The Dawn Falcon
, a novel of the Hyksos expulsion. The novel centers around Kamose and Ahmose, the brother Pharaohs (Ahmose became Pharaoh after his older brother's death, all the battles would take their toll) who drove the Hyksos out of Egypt. I had such fiction crushes on the characters in the book. Actually, if I had to pick a favorite Pharaoh, it would be Ahmose (whose name apparently means 'The Moon is Born' which is TOO AWESOME for words) who finally drove the Hyksos out of Egypt and united the country (and established control over neighboring countries). Not only that, but (to quote wikipedia), he also 'reorganized the administration of the country, reopened quarries, mines and trade routes and began massive construction projects of a type that had not been undertaken since the time of the Middle Kingdom. This building program culminated in the construction of the last pyramid built by native Egyptian rulers. Ahmose's reign laid the foundations for the New Kingdom, under which Egyptian power reached its peak.' That's just incredibly impressive.
And I also have always had a fiction crush on his older brother Kamose (whose throne name was the unpronouceable 'Wadjkheperre' which means Flourishing is the Manifestation of Re), mainly because I fell like mad for him in Pauline Gedge's novel The Oasis.
(all the more notable as the book has no love story). (Here
is a good non-spoilery write-up on the book). Oh well, I am in excellent company. I think PG herself (she is an excellent author of fiction set in Ancient Egypt btw) fell for him a little as she dedicated the book to him.
I better stop, I could ramble on forever.