Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tut Rules.

Monday afternoon, Mary, Carol, and I visited the King Tut exhibition in Ft. Lauderdale. This is a traveling exhibition that has made a stop in South Florida. It was a crowded scene. Although we had a ticket time, we waited in line for more than 30 minutes before our cohort of 100 plus people finally entered the museum. We made our way through a series of rooms that contained artifacts and information about Ancient Egypt, King Tut, and the discovery of his tomb in the 1920s. The tour was about 90 minutes.

When I emerged, I felt just a little underwhelmed and a bit disappointed. There seemed to be just too many people and not enough stuff. But I think I was, in fact, overwhelmed by what I saw and fatigued by the wait, dealing with crowds, looking at the artifacts, and reading the explanations and commentary. It was plainly not forgettable. I have been thinking about what I saw since Monday, pondering.

There are two overall impressions that I took from the experience. One was that these people, the ancient Egyptians, were a highly sophisticated people, with a complex culture, a people who had carved out a magnificent civilization in a relatively unlikely place, surrounded by enemies that they largely subdued. (Hardly anything new here, of course, but the impact that the exhibit made on me of this point and the next point was profound.)

The second impression was how religious the Egyptians were, how close to the supernatural they lived, how convinced they were of an "after-life". Again, nothing new here, but it seemed to me quite ironic that this exhibit is such a big deal (as it should be) in the present culture where our own elites largely deny the supernatural and an "after-life".

Then I wondered about what the impact the exhibit might have on the people who visited the exhibit. Would their view of the world be changed for the good? Does an exhibit like this challenge and instruct us? Or is it simply a sort of pretty toy that leaves us unaffected as we exit the museum?

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