Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Emory Old Kingdom Mummy' at Carlos Museum

Access Atlanta (Catherine Fox)

The mud-brown figure wrapped in yards of linen lies curled on his side, skull cradled by a headrest. He might be mistaken for a George Segal sculpture or a victim at Pompeii frozen in the ash. This man, however, lived thousands of years before Mount Vesuvius erupted. His remains are among the fewer than a dozen mummies extant from Egypt's Old Kingdom, and the only one on this continent, and it belongs to the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

Recently conserved after almost a century-long hibernation in storage, it is the star of and impetus for the museum's “Life & Death in the Pyramid Age: The Emory Old Kingdom Mummy.” Egyptologist Peter Lacovara conveys the historical, religious and geographical context for the prized artifact through tomb objects from the Carlos collection -- many acquired with this show in mind -- loans, large-scale photographs and informative texts.

The exhibition designers created a particularly dramatic tableau by transforming a gallery doorway into the entrance to a tomb. The visitor walks through it, just as an ancient Egyptian bringing an offering for the deceased would have done, to reach the offering plate (one of the new Carlos acquisitions), which sits in front of an actual “false door” door of a tomb.

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