Brilliant programme on BBC 4 last night about the important treasures of Ancient Egypt. Alastair Sooke took us to various locations such as the temple of Hatshepsut and the tomb of Tutankhamun as he revealed what artefacts of Ancient Egypt he thought important.
I felt quite nostalgic as I visited those places in 2005 when I went on a Nile cruise. That was the best holiday ever. I am dying to go back perhaps when it’s cooler. The temperature was 40c when we were at the temple.
Of course the funeral mask of the boy king Tutankhamun figured in Sooke’s list. It’s the treasure that most people associate with Ancient Egypt. But as Sooke showed us there are many other fascinating items to see.
The Nebamun wall paintings, for example, which can be seen in the British Museum. They are quite stunning and were painted by a very highly skilled artist.
The paintings are of every day life and are so detailed.
They can be dated to the final years of the reign of Amenhotep the third.
( The Pharaoh who figures in my book for YA The Snake Princess)
So much work went into making the mask of Tutankhamun. It’s not known for sure who made it but it was obviously a highly skilled goldsmith.
I wrote a poem about it.
The mask of Tutankhamun
I have fashioned a funerary mask
from the flesh of the gods,
burnished and beaten it shines like the sun god Ra.
White quartz and black obsidian
were used for the eyes.
Eyelids, brows and kohl marks
are of precious lapis-lazuli.
With the full lips and fine chin
this is a true likeness of the boy king.
His royal nemes headdress
is solid gold with stripes of blue paste glass,
and finishes in a bound lapis gold plait.
Nekhbet and Wadjet adorn the brow.
They will dazzle the underworld
with their golden radiance.
The false beard of Osiris is woven
with segments of gold and grey-blue enamel.
The pectoral is encrusted with lapis-lazuli,
gemstones and green feldspar.
A jewelled image of Horus adorns each shoulder.
And I have engraved the mask with spells
from the Book of the Dead to help the boy king
on his journey to the Hereafter.
I believe I have created a masterpiece.
But no man will ever see its beauty,
soon it will be entombed