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Sketching at the Michael Carlos Museum


sketching at the Michael Carlos Museum
Models of everyday life are so close to today. Bread, beer and meat!

I spent a lovely day sketching at the Michael Carlos Museum at Emory University yesterday. Umm, sorry, I spent a lovely day on a homeschool field trip at the museum yesterday. My first grader made it through the Magic Tree House Egypt book and factbook and we went to see the mummies!

We all carried sketchbooks, even my two year old. Quite some artistic scribbles!

i use any excuse to visit the Michael Carlos Museum. It is quite definitely the best museum in Atlanta, Georgia. The permanent exhibits are exquisitely chosen excellent examples of the periods, from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Central and South Americas and Africa exhibits. The traveling exhibits are hit or miss, but what appeals to one person might not appeal to another!

I'm always awed by the age of the Egyptian artifacts. They have the only Old Kingdom mummy in the Western world, over 4,000 years old. A young man, curled up on his side as if sleeping. Imagine, 4,000 years old and so similar to us today.

My favorite objects are always the models of daily life. There was one displayed that was amazing. Carved people with pegged on arms. Women baking bread and making beer – you can tell women in ancient Egyptian art by the paler skin. Two men butchering a cow, thankfully not too graphically.

But imagine it, I still make bread, kneading the dough hasn't changed, though I'm thankful for my mixer with heavier doughs. But the basic process of living hasn't changed that much in thousands of years. We eat, we sleep, we laugh, we love, we make art.

This husband and wife statue is lovely, even if the husband's head is gone. So many statues are stilted, but this has the wife's arm around the husband. Her elaborate wig shows braids with a little fringe at the bottom. All you can tell of his hair is some stylized curls. (There are actually ancient Egyptian curling tongs in one of the side rooms!) You so seldom see old art work with affectionate spouses in formal portraits.

Husband and wife formally and affectionately posed thousands of years later.

The Nippur deluge tablet is tiny but the content is amazing! The cuneiform tablet is in ancient Sumerian and tells the story of a great flood. The tablet dates from seventeenth century B.C.. The hero is Utnapishti, who builds an ark, saves his family and animals two by two. Shades of Gilgamesh and Noah, anyone? Utnapishtim is actually in the Gilgamesh epics.

I love comparative mythology. I think that the more very old and similar myths we find, the closer we get to the true history of humanity. And it's a bit frustrating that only 33,000 out of about a million cuneiform tablets have ever been deciphered. Out earliest stories sit stacked up in museum vaults (the lucky tablets) while historians focus on rehashing last year.

Accurate historically or not, this tiny script is a vital part of humanity's history. It was amazing to see it in person, even if I don't read ancient Sumerian. A scribe made those marks on that clay tablet, 3700 years ago. That's worth seeing!

This tiny tablet gives the story of a great flood that swept the land.

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