For the last 3500 years.

HatshepsutThis past weekend, Jody and I went to see the Hatshepsut exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. It’s called: Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh. Apparently, Hatshepsut (Say that five times fast) was regent for her son, but she later upgraded to full pharaoh. This was around 1500 BC, which is really only about 140 human generations ago. The older I get, the more a millenium seems rather short.

The exhibit was pretty interesting, although I found myself thinking more about “culture” and “history” as a business rather than enjoying the priceless antiquities. The exhibit was incredibly crowded. The tickets were around $15 a piece mainly for the privilege of admiring baubles looted from the crypts of long-since departed Egyptians. Most of the non-statuary exhibits were comprised of jewelry and amulets worn by the dead, although there were also many small containers used to store eye makeup and various balms. Things any normal, respectable Egyptian would need for their one-way trip to the afterlife. The commonplace nature of most of the stuff was striking. Human beings have not changed at all in 3500 years. For example, there was whip handle (kinda like this) given to some overseer with an inscription of praise for a job well done. It reminded me of the plastic plaudits most large corporations award in lieu of bonuses: “This whip handle awarded to Amon, the Harvest Manager of Senemut, for bringing in the barley harvest under budget and ahead of schedule.” Something about this is depressing, although I think the Egyptians had a really boring culture judging from the stuff they left behind. Much like the Babylonians, most of their residue is rather uninspiring, with the exception of the pyramids, sculpture, and palaces. Did the Egyptians have a Plato or a Socrates? Maybe they did and that’s the kind of stuff that was destroyed when those idiots razed the Library of Alexandria.

One of the other things I really enjoyed was a game set in a small wooden box meant to be buried with its owner, obviously a lover of games. It reminded me of how we buried my grandmother with a deck of playing cards when she died, because playing games like Shanghai Rummy and Hand and Foot was one of the things she loved doing most with her friends and family.

If you have a chance, spend some a little while gawking at these old dead and their junk. It will make you glad that you’re still alive in your little place and time.

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