To Egypt and back


On a drizzly and chilly September Sunday, 15 people filtered into the Oriental Institute’s Breasted Hall, ready to be transported to ancient Egypt via the second episode of A&E’s documentary series The Great Pharaohs of Egypt (1997). Although viewing was held up as an OI worker struggled to unlock the projectionist closet door, he finally realized, “It goes in, not out!” and the show went on.

The documentary described the boy-king Pepe II, who ascended the throne at age six and ruled for close to 100 years, from 2278 to 2184 BC. Also featured was Hatshepsut, a royal family member who usurped the throne of her young co-regent Thutmose III, crowning herself pharaoh around 1473 BC. After her death, Thutmose III had her image rubbed from reliefs and had statues of her defaced, in what the narrator called “the ancient Egyptian equivalent of book burning.” Thutmose III's successor, Thutmose IV, was notable for something more positive: clearing away the sand from the Sphinx at Giza in 1400 BC.

As the Sphinx faded from the screen, the audience quickly cleared out. Among the mostly older men and women, a tiny girl in a red raincoat and pigtails emerged from the first row, holding her father’s hand—the U of C version of early education.

Jenny Fisher, ’07

Photos: Egypt-fans await the film in Breasted Hall (top); Thutmoses III fills the screen (bottom).

September 12, 2006