Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Visit to 'King Tut Tomb' Found On Illinois Prairie Is Good Trip"

"Temple Mounds and Burying Grounds of Race Which Inhabited This State a Thousand Years Ago, to Be Seen Near Illinois River, 100 Miles From Decatur, Remind One of Pyramids of Egypt; Visit May Be Planned As An All-Day Trip" reads the byline of a news clipping without citation reprinted on a wall of the Dickson Mounds Museum. The institution is an hour or so from my mother's home in Peoria, Illinois. Who knew that my worlds were so much alike?

The museum, which details the history of the human inhabitants of central Illinois over the past 12,000 years, is situated on a burial mound. While the museum is cleaner and better run than the Egyptian Museum, its artifacts are neither as grand nor as numerous. The claim that the mounds remind one of the pyramids of Egypt is a bit grandiose, but another parallel is interesting. The Dickson Mounds Museum used to be known for providing the opportunity to see an excavated Native American burial site with the remains and artifacts left in tact, but in the early 1990s questions over whether the dignity of the deceased was slighted by the thousands of eyes upon them yearly led the site to be recovered and new exhibits installed in an attempt to compensate. In the 1980s, similar questions were being asked in regard to the mummies on display. Then-President Anwar Sadat, under clerical pressure, took the mummies off display and they remained so until some seven years later. It is interesting that the decision in Egypt has been ultimately to display the mummies (generating lots of revenue, I'm sure) while in Illinois, the remains have gone unseen for nearly two decades. An article from the time of the controversy over Dickson Mounds is an interesting read.

With traveling exhibitions like Bodyworlds and the grim bone art of the Sedlec Ossuary on one end of the spectrum and the decisions to cover the dead influenced by Islamic and Native American ideas about degnity and sacredness on the other, it certainly is something to think about.

Egypt bans import and export of genetically modified foods. This decision, related to the broader debate over the safety of GMOs, has significant implications for trade. Egypt, one of the world's largest importers of wheat, recently found itself at odds with Russia over the questionable quality of imports.

Yale University Press has decided not to reprint cartoons depicting Muhammad in a book on "Cartoons that Shook the World" after consulting experts on Islam and counterterrorism.

Egypt is looking into claims that a marine posted at the US Embassy beat an Egyptian man who was inquiring after his American life who left him and took their children. Meanwhile, an Egyptian student at Penn State accused of raping two women has returned to Egypt. He is likely to face extradition if he does not return voluntarily.

1 comment:

Hubert said...

It's good to know some people are indeed interested in the dignity of the dead...
I signed the petition to ban the expo of Chinese human bodies turned into "art" and i was quite happy when the Paris court forbade it.