Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Treasures Abroad, Penn Museum, Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Plans to Restore Ancient Egyptian Throne Room

The monumental restoration will bring pharaoh Merenptah's royal edifice into public view.

Penn Museum's Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery
Any visitor would find it difficult to miss the Penn Museum's iconic red granite sphinx. Resting center stage in the museum's Lower Egyptian Gallery space, one doesn't need to know that its estimated 15 tons of stone make it massive—the eyes already have it. It is touted as the third largest known sphinx in the Western Hemisphere. Originally quarried at Aswan by the ancients over 3,000 years ago in Upper Egypt, it was then floated down the Nile river to grace the sacred enclosure of Ramesses II's Temple to Ptah at ancient Memphis.

Despite its incredible workmanship, however, the face of this sphinx can no longer be seen. It has long been eroded away by windblown sand over centuries of exposure. But from the shoulders down, details remain in place, that portion having been buried by sand and time and protected. One can still see inscriptions carved on its chest and about its base, looking almost as if they had been carved yesterday.

Surrounding the sphinx are the monumental reminders of another ancient pharaoh. Known as Merenptah, he was the 13th son of Ramesses II, having succeeded his father to the throne at a relatively advanced age and ruling for almost 10 years. Some of the monumental elements of his palace—massive partial columns, a gateway, doorframes, and lintels—which once stood pristine, complete, and fully painted near the Temple of Ptah and its sanctuary where the sphinx stood millennia before—are artfully represented. They constitute the most substantial assemblage of an ancient Egyptian palace in any single collection in the world ……… Read More

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