I received four free tickets to the exhibition and since students enter free, I decided to invite my in-laws along for an outing to the Singapore Museum. After being rejected by a couple of friends, I was surprised that my FIL was very enthusiastic. It had been a long time since he last visited the museum.
We decided to join the Chinese guided tour at 4pm. The guide was a middle age lady volunteer whose voice was so soft I had problem hearing her, especially since the kids around were so noisy. But to be fair, she gave many interesting facts. Half way through, the kids and i decided to leave the group and explore ourselves.
Ancient Egypt civilisation began around 3150BC, about 5000 years ago. This exhibition offers an insight to the ancient Egyptian’s attitude to life and afterlife, and the preparartion they made to ensure their transition from earthly existence to immortality. To enhance the atmoshere of the immortal world, the hall is painted black with only the exhibits highlighted. As you enter the exhibition hall, you’ll be greeted by statues with animal head and human body carved from limestones, as well as various artifacts that were discovered buried with the bodies they were supposed to protect.
Enter another hall and you’ll see the actual ‘coffins’, beautifully painted with hierogyphic script for protection. Two close coffins exhibited there were never opened. Instead, they were x-rayed and scanned to reveal the bodies inside, one of which contained a women with her twin babies. My neighbour D, who saw the exhibition in Egypt, told me prior to my visit that the mummies were huge and tall. She’d be surprised to learn that those in Singapore were smaller, some were in fact tiny.
There were mummies of a cat and a baby crocodile on display, as well as a human mummy, tightly wrapped in linen that looked so fresh it’s unbeliveable that the mummy is a few thousand years old. Cats were sacred animals then and were often seen in temples. One could purchased a mummified cat for the house for protection. When pyramids were first discovered, there were thousands of cat mummies unearthed which they did not know the significance of. So the cat mummies were grounded and use as fertilizers.
In case you are interested in the process of making a mummy, I’ll give a brief description. The body is first washed with natron water (hydrated sodium carbonate). The brain is then sucked out through the nose, and all the internal organ taken out through a tiny slit at the side of the torso. The body is dried and filled with natron rocks and wrapped.
Interestingly on the walls of the hall are quotations taken from the Book of Dead, a funerary text for the dead containing spells for the afterlife.
Egypt’s ancient civilisation were invaded by the Greeks and they chose to preserve the Egyptian culture rather than replace them with Greek practices. It was through the invasions by the Arabs and Islam from the Middle East that the whole civilisation, culture and practice were wiped out and replaced. A unique North African culture, one that strived because of the fertile Nile Delta was thus lost forever. Don’t miss your chance to view this exhibit and learn about Ancient Egyptian Civilsation. You’ll be facinated. I can’t wait to visit Egypt.
The exhibition ends 4 April 2010.