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Five masterpieces in Luxor Archaeological Museum, Old Wing

1 May 2009  is passionate about Ancient Egypt
5.0 of 5 stars based on 6 votes

Although this museum is filled with absolutely stunning masterpieces and although it is hard to single out only five items, consider those objects absolute must-sees if you are passionate about Ancient Egypt. These objects are all to be found in the old wing of the museum.

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing
  • Appeals to: Seniors, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Fall
  • 1. Head of a Cow Goddess

    You cannot miss this beautiful head of a cow goddes, which is on display when you enter to your right. It comes from the tomb of Tutankhamun and it is carved in wood with horns of copper and eyes inlaid with lapis lazuli. Her eyes are formed like the "Eye of Horus" which, amongst other things, was a symbol of "being whole". Head, ears and front of neck are gilded, the rest varnished with black resin to symbolize the darkness that was in the netherworld, where she dwelt. This cow goddess is Mehit-Werit, which is one of the aspects of the cow goddess Hathor. It is a beautiful peice of art, this fine Cow Goddess head.

    The head is 93 centimeters high and was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun i 1922 by Howard Carter.

  • 2. Head of Pharaoh Sesostris III

    This head, originally from a statue, in red granite depicts one of the most famous pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom (circa 2055 - 1650 BCE), Sesostris III. Sesotris III ruled from circa 1870 - 1831 BCE. he was one of the last great kings of the Middle Kingdom and he is from the 12th Dynasty. Rulers of the 12th dynasty were tough guys who did not take any prisoners. They took the wellfare and wellbeing of Egypt seriously and worked hard at keeping the power centralized. The reason for this was that before Middle Kingsom, Egypt had gone through a rough period (usually called The First Intermediate Period) where the land was split into two, with a ruler in the north and a ruler in the south. First Intermediate Period was also by the kings of the Middle Kingdom considered a time of chaos and unrest. Sesostris III's devotion to keep Egypt united, protecting her borders from all sorts of riff raff, is clearly showing in the face of this pharaoh: deep folds of worry are clear around the mouth and under the eyes. What we see is a pharaoh with personality. This was common for pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty. Also notice his large ears and the mouth, set in a no-nonsense grimace. This is a depiction of a ruler who confronts his people (underlings) not as a god but as a human being. He is wearing the double crown, symbolizing that he rules over both Upper and Lower Egypt.

    The head is 80 centimeters high and was found in Temple of Karnak in 1970 by an Egyptian-French expedition.

    The head is exhibited as you walk up the stairs and then to the immediate left.

  • 3. Calcite Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and the God Sobek

    This magnificent sculpture stands in the middle of the first level gallery. It is made by calcite and polished into a fabulous shine. It is showing one of the greatest pharaohs in the history of Egypt, Amenhotep III (1390-1352). He ruled in the New Kingdom (circa 1550-1069 BCE) and was a member of the 18th Dynasty. Egypt was on top of the (known) world in the time of Amenhotep III. Riches floaded into the country, making it richer and richer by the minute. Marvellous palaces and temples were build, minions from all corners of the world bowed to pharaoh, who, in his long reign, only went to war once! All other foreign matters were dealt with through diplomacy. The king is depicted as a child, standing beside the crocodile god Sobek, who holds an ankh-sign (sign of life) towards the young king. Amenhotep III is wearing the striped Nemes headdress and a cobra on his forehead. He is also shown with the royal (fake) beard. Ramesses II, who admired and copied Amenhotep III in all that he could, has scratched out Amenhotep III's name and written his own instead on the statue. Amenhotep III was one of the kings who began showing more and more interest in the sun-disc, The Aten, which became a full-blown religion under his son, Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten.

    The statue is 2.5 meter high and was found in Armant outside Luxor in 1967

  • 4. Talatat Blocks from Temple Structure in Karnak

    Heading up to the second level in the main museum building, you find objects belonging to the period under pharaoh Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten, son of Amenhotep III. This pharaoh moved his administration and his court from the old, traditional towns, Memphis in the north and Luxor in the south to a new location between the two. This location's name is Amarna today, and thus we call items from this period and this location for Amarna-objects. In Amarna he established a new religion, where all other Egyptian gods and goddesses were practically banned. Instead only worship of the sun disc, the Aten, was allowed (this is a very condensed version of the whole story). Since he was called Amenhotep, which literally means The God Amun is Satified, he had to change his name to Akhenaten, after he banned the god Amun. But before he moved to his new capital, he did some building work in the Karnak Temple. Later in history, when he became known as the heretic king, his temple was demolished and used as filling in the Ninth Pylon in Karnak. And in the 1960'es, the Egyptian-French expedition cleared out the Ninth Pylon and today all the small blocks, called talatat, has been put together like a puzzle. You can see scenes showing laborers working in the temple storehouses, workshops and breweries. You can see a peasant forcefeeding a calf and two geese eating grain from a jar. The pharaoh is also depicted, he is standing beneath the rays of the Aten, in worship, and in some scenes he is accompanied by his wife, who was Nefertiti.
    There are also two giant statue heads on display here showing the weird facial features of this pharaoh. Egyptologists believe, that there was a change in the way art was made and how people were portrayed during this king's reign, rather than the statues showing how the king (and his family) actually looked.

  • 5. Statue of a Statue of Amenhotep III

    In the 1980'es, archaeologists working in the large courtyard in the Luxor Temple draining and drying the large columns, found a cache under the floor stones. Buried in this cache was a collection of marvellous statues, mainly from New Kingdom. The most magnificent - and famous - is the one on display in the lower level gallery of the old wing. You cannot miss it. It's made of pink granite, its almost glistening and it is placed at the end of the long lower gallery. Note how the sculpture is placed on a sledge. That shows us, that the statue is indeed depicting a statue of a statue, so to speak. Imagine how this would have looked placed outside in the Egyptian sun 3000 years ago. It must've been a truly awesome sight. The statue is of pharaoh Amenhotep III. He was, like I mentioned above, one of the kings who began turning more and more towards the sun disc, the Aten. And he was father of the heretic Akhenaten, whom I also mentioned above. This statue of a statue is a sculpture of a god, no less. Enjoy!