|Ancient history still has a place in modern urban Singapore…|
Humans have been obsessed with the concept of afterlife for as time immemorial. What happens after we die? Where do our spirits go? Is there really a Heaven and Hell? Some cultures make elaborate preparations so that life can be renewed and continued in the after world when they passed on. Among all civilizations, the Egyptians have the most elaborate funerary afterlife rituals – the practice of Mummification. In fact, this strong belief in the afterlife was one of the defining elements of ancient Egyptian culture. Since Dana may be too young to visit Egypt, our history buff (and museum rat) Daddy was especially thrilled when we received the Media Invite to tour this ‘Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb’ exhibition currently at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum.
Egyptian mummies have always been a fascination to mankind. For many years, the only way to extract data from Egyptian Mummies was to unwrap them – a destructive and irreversible process. But thanks to the latest advances in computer technology, anthropologists can now use non-invasive imaging techniques (such as X-rays and CT scans) to look inside a Mummy without opening the coffin or destroying the Mummy wrappings.
For the 1st time in Singapore and South East Asia, the ArtScience Museum is collaborating with the internationally acclaimed British Museum to bring us the award-winning ‘Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb’ exhibition where we are brought on a journey of exploration within the body of the 3000 year old Mummy, a treasured exhibit from the British Museum.
|A journey back 3000 years awaits beyond this door…|
|A 20 minute, 3D feature welcomes us to the art and science of mummification…|
|Our budding Egyptologists getting ready…|
After the 3D film, our museum docent, Ms. Anita brought us through many stunning artefacts culled from the extensive and famed Egyptian collection from the British Musuem. Most of them are sacred amulets which are buried alongside the Mummies for protection on their journey to the afterlife. I find that having a guided tour really makes a difference when you visit the Museums and Ms. Anita did such a fabulous job at piquing our curiosity and sustaining our interests in these exhibits.
|Our visit was greatly enhanced by the vivid story-telling from our experienced Museum Docent, Ms. Anita…|
|Ancient idols and gods….these are actual 3000 year old artifacts…|
|A copper alloy figurine of the Egyptian god, Amun-Ra…|
|“I wonder if I can I touch that doll”…|
|Children and adults alike were intrigued by the stories behind the artifacts…|
Among the 100 over artwork and artifacts on display were four exceptionally preserved human Mummies and two animal Mummies. Kids were amused to discover that animals can be mummified too! Most, if not all of these animal Mummies were used as sacrifices to the gods…
|Mummified cat with face modelled in linen…|
|An Ibis Bird mummy from the Roman Period (30 BC)…|
|From the young to the very old – Dana and Anya admiring an ancient Bronze Cat Amulet…|
Among the other Mummies on display in the exhibition is the Mummy of Tjayasetimu – a singer in the Egyptian Temple of Amun. She died when she was still a child, around 800 BC. Her carefully embalmed body has been enclosed in a cartonnage case representing her with the golden face of a divine being, with her hands and arms partly freed from the traditional Mummy wrappings.
|Our docent Anita, mesmerizing us with the details behind the young girl’s death…|
|The cartonnage of a young female singer. Her actual remains are still intact within…|
|A wrapped mummy as we know of it…|
The Mummy of Nesperennub is the prominent display of the ‘Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb’ exhibition. Nesperennub was alive around 800 BC and died aged approximately forty years, possibly due to illness. His body was discovered by local diggers at Luxor in the 1890s. Nesperennub’s wooden coffin is simple in design, with a painted face, wig and collar and a line of hieroglyphs identifying the occupant. The reddish colouring of the background associates the deceased with the sun god Re.
|The ‘Star’ himself: Priest Nesperennub’s remains…|
|The beautifully painted cartonnage of Nesperennub…|
|The cartonnage is made of mud mixed with straw, built around a lightweight frame of reeds…|
The coffin was also regarded symbolically as a kind of cocoon. Inside, the dead person lay like a child in its mother’s womb, ready to be reborn into the afterlife. The text on the front reveals that Nesperennub (and his father) worked as priests in the great religious Temple of Karnak.
|Hieroglyphs on the coffin depicting the name and family history of the deceased…|
|The line of inscription identifies the occupant inside the coffin…|
|Coffins are supposed to equip the deceased with magical attributes to assist him on the passage into the afterlife…|
|A sarcophagus made of cedar wood which is not native to Egypt…|
|Beautiful hieroglyphic carvings along the sarcophagus…|
|Limestone funerary stelas depicting Egyptian rituals and beliefs…|
In keeping with ArtScience Museum’s commitment to providing interactive programming, there are hands on opportunities for all visitors. This includes an interactive ‘Embalming Workshop‘ which complements the exhibition. Families with young children are able to take part in a specially designed exhibition quest through age-appropriate activity bags containing engaging learning aids and tools such as jigsaw puzzles, creative games and magnifying glasses to help young kids under the exhibits better. It’s a pity we did not have time to try the activity quest bags during our guided tour. We would love to bring Dana back to the exhibition for these two activities!
|The Activity Quest Booth which has activity bags for visitors from as young as 3 years old…|
|One of the exhibition rooms…|
Museums are excellent places where knowledge of the past comes to life. Despite the proliferation of knowledge through iPads, smart phones and personal computers, nothing beats seeing treasured artifacts first hand and hearing these ancient stories narrated vividly. Exhibitions like these not only great places to inspire our children to love knowledge and anthropology, but more importantly, to fall in love with the magic of discovery – seeing what they have read about, studied about, heard about – all come to life.
We enjoyed our visit to the ‘Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb‘ exhibition tremendously and we can’t wait for the day when we can bring Dana to visit the magnificent Egypt. Big thank you to the ArtScience Museum for hosting this media visit.
|Signing off from the ArtScience Museum, an inspiring architectural wonder in itself…|