Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt
Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt explores both the mysteries and the vibrant everyday life of a society that continues to intrigue both expert and armchair archaeologists alike. The exhibit interprets ancient Egyptian society for visitors and it illuminates two universal cultural processes—origins of agriculture and the evolution of complex society.
The anthropological approach to ancient Egyptian culture sets this hall apart from the exhibitions of Egyptian antiquities usually found in art museums. World View, Cultural Evolution and History, Nautical Tradition, Social Organization, Daily Life, and Funerary Religion are the six themes that guided the design of this hall. More than 600 artifacts, most of which belonged to "middle-class" Egyptians, are used to illustrate each theme. Objects include ceramic and stone vessels, jewelry, stelae and relief fragments, tools, and more.
Egyptian artifacts have been a hallmark of Carnegie Museum of Natural History's collections since the museum's inception. The very first accession was Andrew Carnegie's donation of a mummy and its coffin. The collection now includes more than 2,500 ancient Egyptian artifacts dating back to 3100 B.C.
In addition to Mr. Carnegie's inaugural sarcophagus, highlights of the exhibit include the original funerary boat excavated 1894–95 at Dashur, near Cairo. The 3,800-year-old, 30-foot royal funerary boat was excavated from the pyramid complex of Senwosret III and is one of only six such craft ever discovered. The hall also has a detailed reproduction of a tomb from a workmen's village and a life-sized diorama featuring jewelry-making artisans at work.
At the videodisk station, visitors see short audiovisual presentations on topics such as the pyramids, the Nile, modern Egypt, and boats. The video programs illustrate aspects of ancient Egyptian daily life. At the interactive computer station, a visitor can obtain detailed information about various aspects of ancient Egypt. The videodisk and computer stations provide ways of presenting additional information, either augmenting what is seen in the exhibit, or covering new topics.
For more information on ancient Egypt, take a look at our award-winning online exhibit, Life in Ancient Egypt.
Did You Know?
Boats have been a major part of Egyptian culture from the earliest times. The topography of Egypt, heavily influenced by the Nile River, made transportation by boat the most efficient method for regional communication. Ancient Egyptians were also seafarers who sailed the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
Ancient Egyptians mummified a variety of animals, but for reasons quite different from those for which they mummified humans. Certain animals were sacred to particular deities, and the cult temples of those gods and goddesses were frequently presented with mummified animals as votive offerings. Egyptians also took great delight in their pets. At home, on the hunt, and at work, the dog (tjesem) was the Egyptians' most popular animal companion. And, it was the donkey, not the camel, that was the major beast of burden throughout most of Egyptian history.
Although religious practices in ancient Egypt were much broader than funerary religion alone, this culture is best known for its elaborate system for ensuring eternal life. The essential element of funerary religion was, in fact, preparation for the afterlife, because the ancient Egyptians were life-loving people and not, as is commonly believed, obsessed with death. A popular belief maintained that spirits of the dead inhabited a place called Amentet ("the West"). The sun set every evening over the western horizon. To the Egyptians, this nightly disappearance signified the sun's death; the West thus became associated with dying.
For More Info
Visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Section of Anthropology website to learn more about our research.