Visiting Two of Berlin’s Museums

On Wednesday 18 July I visited Berlin’s Museum Island, a complex of five international standard museums on an island in the centre of Berlin.

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Pergamon Museum is the most famous, and even arriving at 10 a.m. when it opened, and on a Wednesday rather than at the weekend, we had to queue for over half an hour to get in.  Pergamon has some really impressive exhibits, including the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon. This was built on the instructions of KingNebuchadnezzar II around 575 BC.  Amazingly, in Babylon there had been an even bigger gate of similar construction immediately behind it, but there was not enough room in the museum to rebuild it.

The second museum we visited was the Neues Museum (New Museum), which is full of very old exhibits. The museum includes many exhibits from Troy and Egypt, including the famous bust of Nefertiti.  While photography is allowed in the rest of the museum without flash, photography isn’t allowed in the room with Nefertiti’s bust, perhaps because the museum wants to retain all image rights to Nefertiti. However photography is allowed outside the room, so you can photograph the bust from just outside the door to the room.  Germans and their rules! There were a number of people with smartphones, but I had a telephoto lens so managed to get a reasonable shot, albeit there is glare from the case.

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Another major exhibit is the Golden Hat.  This was spectacular – amazing that something as sophisticated as this was manufactured in the late Bronze Age, probably about 1000 to 800BC. I had not heard of Golden Hats before, but apparently four exist, this one plus two found in southern Germany and one in France.  The provenance of the Berlin Golden Hat is unknown. It was bought by the museum in 1996 from a dealer acting for a “Swiss collector”.  It is made from very thin gold (0.6mm thick), and would have been worn over a frame of organic material, which has now disappeared. Wikipedia has a good article about it.

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This hat has a complex motif showing the 19 year cycle of the sun and moon. Carving showing hats indicate that they may have been worn by priests in religious rituals.  Amazing.  Too little time to do justice to the exhibits.

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A Hidden Door to the Pharaohs? And Some Exciting Personal News

We may be on the brink of the most exciting archaeological find of the decade, possibly the 21st century.  Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist who is based at the University of Arizona, has studied some very high definition photographs taken by Factum Arte, a Madrid and Bologna based organisation which works with museums and galleries to record and reproduce museum collections.

Factum Arte recently build a facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Luxor, sited about a mile away from the original, which tourists can visit without endangering the actual tomb.  To plan this, they took extremely detailed photos and scans of the original.  By carefully examining the photos of the walls for indentations and cracks, Reeves believes he has identified two sealed doorways leading from the tomb.

Reeves speculates that the doorways could lead to the tomb of Tutankhamun’s step-mother, queen Nefertiti, one of the few major figures whose tomb hasn’t yet been identified.  Initial confirmation that there is a sealed tomb or at least an area leading off Tutankhamun’s tomb could be obtained by carrying out a radar scan.  This would not damage the existing tomb.

It is wait and see.

And My Exciting News?

A project I have been working on for 18 months now is nearing completion.  I have carried out a detailed study of Scottish Border’s history, and visited and photographed the key sites.  I will be publishing the result as an Amazon Kindle book in September.  Normally I want to post once a week, but to allow me to concentrate on this project for the next few weeks I may not post again until the book is published.