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The ugliest coffin you'll ever see
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 6:30 am    Post subject: The ugliest coffin you'll ever see Reply with quote

As many of you know the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs opened in Chicago back in May. At the press preview shortly before the opening, a representative of Exelon, one of the main exhibition sponsors, let it slip that his boss, CEO John Rowe, kept an ancient Egyptian coffin in his office. Zahi Hawass was at the Field Museum for the press preview and threw a fit when he got to the podium, denouncing Rowe for having this coffin and threatening the Field Museum with reprisals (i.e., stopping the Tut exhibit before it even opened). This article from the Sun Times of Chicago will tell you a bit more about the incident.

In the end Mr. Rowe made nice by offering to lend "his" coffin to the "Inside Ancient Egypt" exhibit at the Field Museum. Hawass stopped pouting and said this would be acceptable.

I can now announce that the coffin is on display in our permanent Egyptian exhibit, in its own glass display case...and I can say with certainty that it's quite possibly the ugliest ancient Egyptian coffin I've ever seen. Here's a full view of it:



Here is a profile view; this is an oblique view; and here's a close-up of the face.

We would like to offer Mr. Rowe to take it back. Laughing Hawass had originally insisted that the coffin be returned to Egypt, but were he to see it for himself (and I don't believe he ever has), he would probably be thinking, Whew, I sure dodged a bullet on this one! So there it stands, on view at the Field Museum.

There are hieroglyphic inscriptions down the legs, and I could make out a couple of offering formulae but not much else. Egyptologist Emily Teeter, from the Oriental Institute of Chicago, examined the coffin and reported that most of the hieroglyphs say nothing and that, indeed, some of the glyphs don't even look like hieroglyphs. The coffin, by the way, supposedly dates to the first century BCE, therefore late in the Ptolemaic Period.

Ain't it just a frightful thing? My coordinator thinks it looks like Dick Tracy (click the "profile" link above). There's no mummy in the coffin, so we figure that whenever Dick Tracy finally dies, he has a place to rest for eternity. My coordinator is also convinced that the ears were fashioned from Twinkies. One of my fellow docents figures it's actually an ironing board cover. Another docent says it looks like something out of a "Far Side" cartoon. And there's some debate that it isn't actually ancient but was made 20 years ago as an art project in one of the local high schools.

Coffins are one of my favorite focuses of study, and I must say I've never seen one quite like this. The odd pink face might be explained by the possibility of the coffin having been made for a Greek man who wished to be buried in the Egyptian fashion (this was fairly common), but the shape is very strange and especially unusual is the clumsy, boxy shape. All those right angles just don't look right.

So, what do you folks have to say? Anyone want a coffin? Laughing
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:53 am    Post subject: Re: The ugliest coffin you'll ever see Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
I can now announce that the coffin is on display in our permanent Egyptian exhibit

So if it's in your permanent exhibit, does that mean that if some little kid come up to you asking questions about the coffin, you'd have to keep a straight-face, while talking about it?

Kmt_sesh wrote:
So, what do you folks have to say? Anyone want a coffin? Laughing

No thanks! I think you got the title completely right, definately the ugliest coffin I've ever seen. Surprised You probably couldn't even pay Hawass to take it back. Exclamation
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did they authenticate the coffin? It makes me wonder if it could be a fake. The face looks like the faces on the kitchy reproductions they show in the Luxor casino in Las Vegas Shocked
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daughter_Of_SETI wrote:
Quote:
So if it's in your permanent exhibit, does that mean that if some little kid come up to you asking questions about the coffin, you'd have to keep a straight-face, while talking about it?


Supposedly, yes, but it's quite hard to do. Every time my coordinator goes down there with a mind to show the coffin to someone on the staff, he's already laughing out loud by the time he's entering the exhibit.

But avoiding this kind of thing with visitors is quite simple. We docents merely make a point of it not to stand anywhere near the coffin.

I printed out that illustration of Dick Tracy from my starting post and brought it to the museum today, just for giggles. It's both hilarious and spooky how much the two resemble each other. Razz

anneke wrote:
Quote:
Did they authenticate the coffin? It makes me wonder if it could be a fake. The face looks like the faces on the kitchy reproductions they show in the Luxor casino in Las Vegas


To my knowledge no one has authenticated it. As far as I know Emily Teeter is the only Egyptologist who's spent any time with it, and that was just to have a look at the hieroglyphs. As I mentioned, she confirmed that many of them are gibberish, but that alone isn't conclusive. Many authentic artifacts have been found with nonsensical inscriptions.

I wouldn't be the least surprised if it is fake. Supposedly it was in John Rowe's office for years, but no one has informed us where he got it from.

But does this mean that the Luxor casino in Las Vegas is missing one of its props? Laughing
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, Kmt_sesh, if it turns out that the coffin is authentic, I dread to think of what torture the poor craftsman that made it had to endure, after presenting it to the owner. He pobably ended up getting his nose lopped off for making something so ugly. I mean, after all, some poor guy, was expected to spend the rest of his life (well, death) laying in that thing! Shocked
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL Man, I certainly wouldn't be a happy customer! Was there a complaints department in ancient Egypt?

My coordinator likes to joke that the craftsman who was hired for this task was getting lazy, and handed it over to his kids to do.

I wish you folks could see it in person. The more you study it, the more defective it looks. At about chest level, below a layer of paint and perhaps gesso or plaster, you can even see a board that was stuck in there perhaps to firm it up. I don't know. It's a very strange (and ugly) coffin.

If any of you do make it to the Field Museum in Chicago and wander into the "Inside Ancient Egypt" exhibit on the ground floor, do be sure to search it out. You'll find it to the left of our shrine to Bastet. After all, everyone needs a good laugh, right? Laughing
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Meritaten
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hawass is game to rip into a sponsor so publically - these folks are the lifeblood of exhibitions and museums! Still, you have to give him one thing - he's not afraid to say what he thinks, even when it isn't the most diplomatic thing to do. That's either highly principled, mad or both.

I did love the Indiana Jonesque comment (to which I am not unsympathetic, as impractical as it is in the modern antiquities market):
Quote:
"Antiquities should be in museums," Hawass said, "not in people's homes."

Have to say something nice about the poor, unloved coffin...

....um....

nice use of pastels?
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
I wish you folks could see it in person.

Personally, I don't think it's the best sales pitch I've heard for your museum. Laughing It doesn't really make me want to get on the first flight out to Chicago! On the other hand, the Unis-ankh tomb that's at your museum does make me want to visit, Razz The only trouble is, the longest flights I've ever been on were nolonger than 2 an a half hours, and I hated every second (I do not like flying at all!!!!). So, until someone comes up with a way for me to just materialise at the museum, I doubt I'll ever see the Unis-ankh tomb Crying or Very sad or that erm.... lovely.... coffin. Wink
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Shepenmut
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:46 pm    Post subject: Re: The ugliest coffin you'll ever see Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:

Ain't it just a frightful thing? My coordinator thinks it looks like Dick Tracy (click the "profile" link above). There's no mummy in the coffin, so we figure that whenever Dick Tracy finally dies, he has a place to rest for eternity. My coordinator is also convinced that the ears were fashioned from Twinkies. One of my fellow docents figures it's actually an ironing board cover. Another docent says it looks like something out of a "Far Side" cartoon. And there's some debate that it isn't actually ancient but was made 20 years ago as an art project in one of the local high schools.


laughing5
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meritaten wrote:
Quote:
Have to say something nice about the poor, unloved coffin...

....um....

nice use of pastels?


LOL That's great. You must be the kind of person who looks for the good in things, Meritaten, and that's nice. I will grant you the coffin is very colorful and some of the artwork is no better or worse than on other lower-quality coffins. It's generally the face and shape that turn me off.

Daughter_Of_SETI wrote:
Quote:
Personally, I don't think it's the best sales pitch I've heard for your museum. It doesn't really make me want to get on the first flight out to Chicago!


What, you don't think the Field Museum of Natural History should start using this coffin as its main logopiece? Well, scratch that martketing ploy. We were hoping people would come from around the world just to see the ugliest Egyptian coffin ever made. Laughing

Quote:
So, until someone comes up with a way for me to just materialise at the museum, I doubt I'll ever see the Unis-ankh tomb Crying or Very sad or that erm.... lovely.... coffin.


The site-to-site transporter...another thing currently under consideration by the Egyptian Dreams Research and Development team. It might take awhile, though.

It's not that I'm crazy about flying (one of the most boring things on earth), but it sure beats long cross-country drives! We used to do those when I was a teeny-tiny kid so I learned to hate them from an early age. If it's a choice between endless hours of driving or a few hours in a plane...hand me the boarding pass, baby!

Never fear, Unis-ankh and the ugly coffin will always be there for you. At least Unis-ankh will. We're still hoping that once the Tut exhibition leaves Chicago, John Rowe will take his coffin back.

Or maybe we'll donate it to the Oriental Institute. I'm sure they could use something in which to store the lost-and-found stuff.
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL I couldn't resist it:



Very Happy
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Shepenmut
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
LOL I couldn't resist it:



Very Happy


toothy10 lol he does look like Dick Tracey.
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
The site-to-site transporter...another thing currently under consideration by the Egyptian Dreams Research and Development team. It might take awhile, though.

Wow, Kevin does like to keep himself busy.... Running Egyptian Dreams, inventing a time machine, and now the site-to-site transporter!! Laughing

Kmt_sesh wrote:
Or maybe we'll donate it to the Oriental Institute. I'm sure they could use something in which to store the lost-and-found stuff.

Or, maybe the museum will donate the coffin to you, after all, you said you always wanted your own Egyptian style coffin. Wink
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Wow, Kevin does like to keep himself busy.... Running Egyptian Dreams, inventing a time machine, and now the site-to-site transporter!!


LOL What can I say? Our Kevin is a Renaissance man. He's also working on a cloning machine so he can have more help with his various projects. Very Happy

Quote:
Or, maybe the museum will donate the coffin to you, after all, you said you always wanted your own Egyptian style coffin.


My friend, even I'm not that desperate!
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kat
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a more serious note here - Hawass is becoming a charicature of himself. Before this coffin incident, on a list of objects he wanted 'repatriated', was a nice KO statue from a Reisner/Giza excavation that was LEGALLY given to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

This coffin was legally obtained as well. From other newspaper accounts that I read, Mr. Rowe purchased it from an antiquities dealer. From all accounts, this object was treated with care and respect, as Mr. Rowe had the glass case made for its protection, and even learned to read the glyphs.

I wonder what Hawass would say to Barbara Walters, who was given a wonderful 22ND Dynasty coffin by the Egyptian government for her coverage of the Six Day War. It's displayed in the foyer of her home, and last year, she announced on air that she had decorated it with tinsel garlands, etc. "to make it more festive for the holiday season" Surprised

At least Mr. Rowe treated his coffin with a bit more respect!
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