Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Travel and History

I have a deep love of and expertise in Roman, Greek and Levantine history and archaeology. My wife is an expert in Egyptology. She has studied under some of the top Egyptologists in world. She can rattle off 4500 years of Egyptian history from memory and can read hieroglyphs. I have learned a lot from her and have become and Egyptomaniac in the process.

Between her vast collection of Egyptian artifacts, and my Roman and Chinese collections our apartment looks like a Victorian-era colonial study.

This weekend we had the pleasure of attending the "King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" exhibit at the Franklin Institute of Science in Philadelphia. For the first time since 1977 the treasures of Tut's tomb have come to the United States and Philadelphia is the ONLY stop on the east coast. It was a spectacular exhibit. It was beautifully curated, dramatic, atmospheric, contextually informative and the artifacts were magnificent. To behold these 3300 year old works of art is an otherworldly experience.

Enhancing the experience is the fact that at the UPENN museum they have an exhibit on "Akhenaten and Armana" the immediate predecessor to Tut, so you can do both in the same day. We also enjoyed the colonial era history offered up by Philadelphia.
If you want to make a pleasurable day trip or weekend trip I highly recommend heading to Philadelphia.

Suggested itineray:

Day 1: Tour Philadelphia's treasures of American History - Walk the old city and enjoy the largest set of intact Colonial-era buildings, streets, and blocks. 4-5 hours including: Indepedendence Hall (1/2 hour tours every 1/2 hour), The Liberty Bell, Christ Church, Franklin Square, Betsey Ross House, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Streets including Market, Chestnut Vine

Walk and shop the boutiques and stores on South Street, walk from west to east. Lunch: Cheesesteaks at Pat's, Finish at Penn's Landing and enjoy the views and sites on the Delaware River.

Dinner: The City Tavern, colonial style restaurant offering relatively autehntic colonial era dishes and recipes. Warm, cozy, pewter and candle atmosphere.

Day 2: Start at the UPENN archeological museum. Visit the museums excellent collections of Buddhist, Asian. North and South American collections. Finish by visiting the "Amarna" special Egyptian exhibit. It details the brief reign of Amenhotep IV aka Akhehenatan. He briefly instituted belief in a single deity "the Aten" or Sun Disk. Tut followed and his minder restored the old ways. A great show to see pre-tut (admission $8).

Head over to the Franklin Insitute. Enjoy the science exhibits befor ethe Tut show. (admision $27-$32).

If you are excited by history, art, archaeology and travel its a great way to spend a day or two.