Sun, Nov 23, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Mysteries of ancient Egypt unveiled

The CKS Memorial Hall is hosting an exhibit that looks at thousands of years of Egyptian art

By Diana Freundl  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

The paintings on this sarcophagus detail the life of a wealthy priest who lived between 1,500 and 1,000 BC.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CKS ART GALLERY.

Mummies are said to resemble time capsules in their ability to tell us about periods of ancient Egypt. However, a deeper understanding of their history often remains buried in their tombs.

For the next four months, people will have the opportunity to unveil some of these mysteries at an exhibition on loan from the Louvre titled "The Ancient Egyptian Art" on display at Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Making a rather interesting debut -- this is their first time outside the Louvre -- the 3,000-year-old mummified bodies of a girl and four animals gained national recognition when National Taiwan University Hospital performed x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests on them early last week.

"This is a very interesting exhibition in Taiwan because we have never shown any of the mummies outside of the Louvre before," said Jean-Luc Bovot, a representative from the Louvre. Bovot, who is a professor of archaeology in addition to being responsible for Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre, said it is also the first time the mummies have been x-rayed.

Taiwan's request to investigate the ancient remains was approved by officials at the museum because, according to Bovot, the Louvre does not have the time nor appropriate technology to perform such examinations. "At the Louvre we do not have the time and money to use this approach to study the mummies."

The most significant outcome of the x-rays was the detailed investigation of one of the animal bodies, a cat, which had not been viewed for approximately 3,000 years. "We didn't know what was inside and with the scans we see for the first time the cat inside. That for us is a great discovery."

With 625 Egyptian antiquities on display, the exhibit contains artifacts from 4000 to 30 BC. The layout of the exhibit has been well considered, with each of the pieces meticulously arranged according to its appropriate time period. Entering at the beginning of ancient Egyptian civilization, visitors are greeted by a host of several stone statues and restored doorways. After they peruse the showcases of jewels and excavated treasures, they are treated to an impressive exhibit of hieroglyphs. The journey through ancient history comes to an end with the sarcophagi and the mummies that rest there.

The only limiting factor is that none of the relics has English descriptions and all of the programs are in Chinese.

The exhibition will be on display in Taipei until March 28, when it will move to Taichung from April 9 to June 18 and finally to Kaohsiung from June 30 to Nov 7.

The CKS Art Gallery is located on the main level of the CKS Memorial Hall. 1F, 21 Zhongshan N Rd, Taipei (台北市中山北路211F). The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Entrance costs NT$180 for adults and NT$160 for students.

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