Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Ancient Egypt in Ann Arbor

In a big museum like the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, you can see a lot of Egyptian mummy cases, statues of people, cats, and other animals; toys, jars, papayrus scrolls and stone tablets with writing, and many other things. Some museums even show real mummies with their wrappings, just as they were buried thousands of years ago.

In the Kelsey Museum in Ann Arbor, you can see only one wooden mummy case. The mummy (that is, the body of the dead person) isn't shown in the museum here. The top of the case is a portrait of the face of the person who is buried there. Inside the mummy case is a painting of an ancient god or goddess with a bird and a lot of writing, including the name of the dead person who was in the case. The mummy case and other Egyptian things in the museum here are inside of glass or plexi-glass cases, and it was hard to take photos -- the ones here are the best I could do.

Miriam and Alice have some new books about Egypt, and they learned why so many ancient Egyptian objects have lasted several thousand years. The reason is that the ancient Egyptians built big stone tombs in the desert to preserve their possessions and to bury each rich person in an elaborate, painted wooden coffin and stone sarcophagus. The Pharoahs, or kings of Egypt, also built many stone temples and other buildings. Many pyramids and Egyptian temples still stand in the deserts of modern Egypt, near to modern cities full of people who live in apartment buildings and houses like our own, who ride in cars, watch TV, and go to school. There are no more Pharoahs or ancient Egyptian people: only their buildings and burial goods have lasted.

The Egyptians used a system of writing called hieroglyphics. People used to think that every word in Egyptian hieroglyphics was represented by a picture, but that's not quite right. Some pictures and symbols can be combined to make writing work better. However, most people think that it's easier to read and write using our alphabet with 26 letters A to Z that stand for sounds. It took people a long time to learn to read Egyptian writing, but now they can find ancient stones or papyruses with interesting stories and historic writings.

The pictures to the right are the top and bottom of a carved stone tablet in the museum. You can see a picture of some animals and some Egyptian hieroglyphic writing on the stone. You can also see two people with some fruit and vegetables.

Here is a picture from Egypt. If you go there, you can see the ancient pyramids and the huge stone statue of a half-man half-lion called the sphinx. If you can't go all the way to Egypt, you can still see lots of ancient things in museums like the one I visited today.

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